Courtesy: USA Swimming
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Longtime USA Swimming Partner, Phillips 66, reaffirms its commitment to safety in and around water. In this year of unprecedented challenges, Phillips 66 is proud to recognize this year’s Make a Splash Heroes, Adam Bueling, manager of Beaches and Pools for the Chicago Park District; Rachael Jones, executive director for Aquatics for the YMCA of Greater New Orleans; and Shawn Slevin, executive director of the Swim Strong Foundation in New York City.
These Make a Splash Heroes continued to give back to their communities and ensure water safety education is available to all members despite economic hardship, inaccessibility to pools or other challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Each honoree will be presented with an award of $5,000 to continue their lifesaving work.
In previous years, the Make a Splash Tour presented by Phillips 66 takes USA Swimming Foundation Ambassadors and Olympic medalists around the country to educate children, parents, communities and civic leaders regarding the importance of learning to swim. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, Phillips 66 and the USA Swimming Foundation launched the Saving Lives is Always in Season awareness campaign in October, in addition to supporting these efforts to further water safety education at home.
“Safety is at the center of Phillips 66’s operations and culture,” Phillips 66 Director of Social Impact Claudia Kreisle said. “We have stayed committed with our support to the USA Swimming Foundation to raise awareness around water safety and to teach children the lifesaving skill of swimming.”
Adam Bueling – Chicago
The importance of teaching water safety remained critically important near the Chicago Lakefront, even as pools and beaches were closing.
Though COVID-19 forced updates to Bueling’s traditional water safety curriculum, he and his staff pinpointed new techniques to ensure Chicagoans are safer around the water. These age-targeted programs, in 27 locations across the city, focus on water safety skills and cover new topics every week as participants attend virtually.
Bueling draws a distinction between learning water safety and learning how to swim. The lessons progress from how to call 911 or how to look for a lifeguard, to advanced lessons, like how to create your own ring buoy or how to spot and help someone in distress. Bueling views this time as a chance to emphasize water safety before pools and beaches open in Chicago again.
“There is value in virtual training. We’re hopeful that our patrons will use this virtual time to learn about water safety training and prepare to go back in the water once it is safe to do so,” he said. “Our lakefront visitors are our best advocates. It only takes one person to tell their friends, ‘this is not a safe spot to swim, we should go back to the beach.’ That comment alone can save lives and that would be hugely gratifying for us.”
To learn more, please visit https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/.
Rachael Jonas – New Orleans
In 2017, Jonas introduced a program called H2Geaux, which allows local students to have their physical education spent in pools, learning how to swim.
Her water safety and swim lesson programs faced a difficult task when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Jonas and her team decided not to wait and focus on how to teach swim lessons when pools opened again, but rather on how to creatively teach swim lessons during the pandemic. Ultimately, Jonas and her team made the decision to move away from hosting all their swim lessons in one pool, instead traveling to outdoor pools in the area to provide a convenient way for families to get in the water.
By doing this – including offering transportation to and from the pool for families – Jonas has made her footprint on the New Orleans metro area. The organization offers lessons for entire family units as well, including parents of swim students.
“Water safety means to me that every child, no matter their background or history with water, deserves to learn how to swim,” Jonas said. “Just like every kid that learns how to ride a bike or write their ABCs, they deserve to learn how to swim.”
To learn more, please visit https://www.ymcaneworleans.org/.
Shawn Slevin – New York City
Swim Strong’s DRY-side program provides water safety education for high-risk communities, with a focus on the dangers around various bodies of water. Once COVID-19 hit, Slevin and her staff retooled her Know Before You Go™ program to be delivered in a virtual format.
“The genesis of this program came from realizing that there are 8.5 million people here in New York City and the likelihood that we can get everyone to learn to swim in my lifetime just isn’t going to happen,” Slevin said. “Because of the increased development of our waterfronts, more people have access to open water but don’t understand the dangers or have the appropriate swimming skills. I was afraid our drownings and rate of water-based accidents was going to go through the roof.” Slevin noted that in New York City alone, an average of 15 people drown every year.
Slevin said that the Know Before You Go program is for non-swimmers and swimmers alike, as many of the issues in navigating open water and seasonal conditions can still be foreign to an avid pool swimmer. Slevin reached out to communication experts from around the world to put together materials for specific water conditions or situations from being safer around water in the home to what to do when you fall through ice on a lake.
To learn more about Know Before You Go, please visit https://www.swimstrongfoundation.org/know-before-you-go/.
The USA Swimming Foundation has long shared the sobering statistic that drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 14 in the United States. Research has shown that formal swimming lessons reduce the risk of childhood drowning by 88 percent. The USA Swimming Foundation, with the support of Phillips 66, has continued to work together to save children’s lives through access to swim lessons. To find swim lesson providers and see which pools are currently open in your area, please visit www.usaswimming.org/savinglives.
Since 1973, Phillips 66’s contributions have supported the USA Swimming community through National Championships and other international competitions, publication of sport development materials, and many additional endeavors. The Make a Splash Tour, which the company has sponsored since the program’s inception in 2009, is a natural extension of its dedication to safety.