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Free swim lessons, water safety education coming to City of Detroit

In a united effort to expand free swim lessons and increase water safety among Detroit youth, a new program was collaboratively launched by the City of Detroit’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. The Swim in the D initiative kicks off this summer with a preliminary goal of teaching more than 500 Detroit children to swim and to help them become more confident and safer in and around the water.

Studies have shown that 70 percent of Detroit children have little to no swimming ability, which demonstrates a dire need to reduce water-related injuries and drowning deaths.

“For the city of Detroit to be able to offer free swim lessons to kids citywide is very important, said Brad Dick, Group Executive, Services & Infrastructure. “I learned to swim as a child and if kids learn the basics it will prevent unnecessary drowning deaths. Access to swim education is paramount and we are excited to start and grow this program in the coming years.”

The Swim in the D program includes:

  • Free swimming lessons in Brennan Pool at Rouge Park for Detroit residents age 6 to 17 (two 5-week sessions offered)
    • Session 1: June 21, 2021 through July 24, 2021
    • Session 2: July 26, 2021 through August 28, 2021
    • Classes are one-hour long, twice a week and offered on Mondays/Wednesdays, Tuesdays/Thursdays and Fridays/Saturdays; pre-registration is required
    • Participants are grouped by age and ability with no lesson having more than 28 students per class.
    • COVID-19 safety protocol will be followed with guidance from federal, state, and local health officials.
  • Swim lessons and water safety education to be taught by certified swim coaches.
  • Every child will receive a free swim bag complete with swimsuit, t-shirt and swim cap.

The program will also include pre- and post-program skills assessments and parent satisfaction surveys to help ensure the effectiveness of the program.

“Metroparks is thrilled to collaborate in a program that helps meet a real community need, teaches an important lifelong skill, increases access to a healthy, fun recreation activity, and helps us more equitably serve the city,” said Huron-Clinton Metroparks Director Amy McMillan. “This is a great example of what we can accomplish working together.”

The Metroparks and Detroit Riverfront Conservancy each provided $25,000 to support the cost of supplies and equipment while the city’s Parks and Recreation Department will run the registration process and provide the lesson instruction.

“We are excited that this program will help many Detroit children gain the skills they need to be able to enjoy spending time in the water safely,” said Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. “We are proud to partner with the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department and Huron-Clinton Metroparks on this important life-saving and life-changing initiative, which will allow more children from Detroit to enjoy Michigan’s wonderful lakes and rivers.”

Registration for Swim in the D program filled up just a few hours after opening and partners are looking forward to a successful first season of lessons.

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