It is National Water Safety Month! With summer approaching, and pools reopening, more and more people are headed back to the water. As life is slowly getting back to normal, it is important to remember swimming is a life skill that not everyone has access to. The unfortunate truth is that drowning is the leading cause of death among toddlers. In addition, according to the World Health Organization, there are nearly 320,000 drowning related deaths annually.
This reality became all too real for Tankproof Co-Founder, Thurman Thomas, who encountered a near-drowning experience at the age of 10. “It was the most embarrassing thing ever, but I was scared out of my mind. After that, our mom was wise enough to get us swimming lessons. That’s how I learned,” says Thurman. Brothers Thurman and Torrence are musicians and artists by trade, and after attending a concert fundraiser, they were inspired to make a difference in their own community. As artists, the Thomases decided they’d first start with what they knew. They began by designing and selling tank tops in an effort to make swim lessons more accessible to those in need. Thurman and Torrence came up with the idea of making kids ‘drown proof’ which later led to the creation of ‘Tankproof’.
In Tankproof’s first year, their goal was to sell enough tank tops to provide swim lessons for 10 kids. They ended up raising enough to help 60 kids enroll at their local swim school, and 120 kids the next year! Over the next five years, Tankproof’s impact grew tremendously, and they decided to turn their small initiative into a real 501(c)-3. Rather than sponsoring children to take swim lessons at a traditional swim school, the team began operating with their own instructors and curriculum developed through research and experience to effectively teach life-saving skills.
“We teach swimming lessons, yes, but we really teach confidence. We work with children to conquer their fears so they excel in the water and out.”
Torrence Thomas, Tankproof Co-Founder.
In 2019, Tankproof hosted lessons in multiple locations throughout Louisiana, such as Gonzales, Baton Rouge, and Monroe. In 2020, Tankproof was also able to impact the cities of Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA. Now in 2021, Tankproof is expanding to Dallas, TX, Hammond, LA, Portland, OR, and Los Angeles, CA, as well as continuing to serve in all previous locations.
At the height of COVID-19 in 2020,Tankproof adapted to the new circumstances by turning their focus towards food security. The organization quickly recognized the effect the pandemic was having on those that relied on school prepared meals. In 2020 alone, Tankproof distributed 420,000 lbs. of food to children in need, which is equivalent to the weight of 42 mature elephants!!
As pools start to re-open, Tankproof plans to reach hundreds of children through their “Tankproof Tour” in summer of 2021, as their team travels to inner-cities spreading water-safety education, food security, and lots of joy. Their first session will begin the week of May 24th in Hammond, Louisiana. With the assistance of city programs and partnerships, Tankproof is projected to give the gift of swimming to approximately 990 children! During the span of their one-week swim lesson sessions, the team also distributes meals throughout the communities and neighborhoods in the surrounding area.
100% of swim lessons provided by Tankproof are made possible through charitable donations, and proceeds generated from apparel. FINIS is proud to join the efforts of Tankproof, support them with all their swimming needs, and aid in creating a brighter future for generations to come. Want to be part of the movement? Check out Tankproof’s line of apparel at tankproof.org or use code ‘TANKPROOF’ at FINISswim.com for 20% off MSRP, and 10% will be donated back to Tankproof. Additionally, you can now make direct contributions to Tankproof though FINIS’ website by searching ‘Tankproof Donation’.
“We have always put forward efforts to promote learn-to-swim, and want to support those committed to it. Tankproof’s mission to help those in need learn to swim, as well as providing food security, continues to shed light on a cause that is near and dear to our hearts.”
John Mix, FINIS Co-Founder
Be on the lookout for future collaborations between Tankproof and FINIS and stay connected with us on Instagram and Facebook. @tankproof @finisswim.
Tankproof’s goal is to provide access, equity, and opportunity through swimming lessons and food security to make communities safer and even save lives. Comprised of some of the best and brightest, each and every team member is committed to giving their all for the people in front of them. Tankproof gives not only a life-saving gift but true compassion for the youth that we serve.
About FINIS, Inc.
John Mix and Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Pablo Morales founded FINIS in Northern California in 1993 with a mission to simplify swimming for athletes, coaches, beginners and lifelong swimmers around the world. Today, FINIS fulfills that mission through innovation, high-quality products and a commitment to education. FINIS products are currently available in over 80 countries. With a focus on innovation and the fine details of swimming, FINIS will continue to develop products that help more people enjoy the water.