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Everyone in the Pool Initiative

Drowning By The Numbers

Drowning is an epidemic that hits low-income families and children of color the hardest, with Black children aged 5-19 five and a half times as likely as white children in the same age group to die from drowning. In Detroit, nearly 80% of children residing in households with incomes below $50,000 do not know how to swim and a substantial 70% of youth have little to no swim experience.

graphic showing stats of swim ability and drowning

We are working with community partners to reverse these trends to save lives by increasing access to free swim lessons and lifesaving water skills through the expansion of its Everyone in the Pool swim initiative.

Reversing the Trend

We are working to reverse the trend and ensure everyone has access to these lifesaving skills. Over the past three years, Metroparks has partnered with public and nonprofit organizations throughout its service area (Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne counties) to collaborate on free water safety and swim lessons delivered to more than 4,600 students. Community partnerships enable us to support free lessons at various recreation centers and facilities in underserved communities we’re working the hardest to reach. The reality, however, is there are many in our communities who still lack access to lessons and water safety opportunities.

An Ambitious Goal Within Reach

That’s why we have set an ambitious goal to support free water safety and swim lessons for 6,000 students annually. Achieving that goal will require a significant investment in the hiring and training of more lifeguards and instructors, the identification of more community partners and building the necessary staff infrastructure. As outlined in our Everyone in the Pool 5-year action plan, we will:

  • Increase the amount of free swim lessons regionally by working with additional partners and supporting additional sessions of swim lessons.
  • Expand the number of school-year swim lessons supported by the Metroparks by at least 20% annually.
  • Establish a formal data collection and reporting process for all free water safety and swim lessons.
  • Increase the number of certified lifeguards and swim instructors in Southeast Michigan so that by 2028 Metroparks facilities and partner swim lesson facilities remain fully staffed all season long.
  • Expand lifeguard training programs to include all five counties we serve and explore program opportunities for junior lifeguarding and ongoing career opportunities.

To turn these goals into reality, the Metroparks must raise $1.5 million to fund the 5-year initiative.

Each swim lesson currently costs an average of $100 per student. By making this commitment and investment now, we will make a lasting and meaningful impact on water safety education throughout Southeast Michigan.

5-Year Everyone in the Pool Plan

Click thumbnail below to read the full plan

cover photo thumbnail of Everyone in the Pool 5-year Plan

Report from Summer 2023 Lessons

Click thumbnail below to read full report.

Thumbnail image of cover of Everyone in the Pool Summer report

Regional Swim and Water Safety Study Results

A study conducted in 2021 by consultant Counsilman-Hunsaker revealed a multitude of regional barriers to swim, with the most significant obstacle being the high cost of swim lessons. The study was used by Metroparks and its partners to identify the highest needs for programs and growth that would have the greatest impact, starting with supporting multiple partners in the great work they were already doing in their communities.

Click here to read the full report.

Explore Available Swim Lessons

Metroparks is working with multiple partners throughout the year to offer free swim lessons at locations throughout Southeast Michigan. Those opportunities are posted to the website for registration as they are available. The next lessons that will be available for registration are winter lessons taking place January – May and registration will open in early January.

Click here to explore free lesson opportunities.

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