Friday, May 13, 2022
This spring, Milwaukee Recreation reintroduced a day school water safety program for third-grade students from Milwaukee Public Schools. During the program located at North Division High School and South Division High School, students – many of whom have never received formal swim instruction or have ever even been in a pool – have the opportunity to participate in introductory swim lessons with qualified aquatics instructors and lifeguards.
Eight classrooms from three MPS schools are currently participating in the program, including Allen-Field School, LaFollette School, and Lloyd Barbee Montessori School. Each classroom of third-grade students visits a nearby high school pool for four weekly lessons. Before the lessons, a water safety instructor also visits the students in their classroom to prepare them for the experience; after the sessions, there is another classroom visit to summarize the water safety lessons.
Milwaukee Recreation uses the curriculum from the American Red Cross' "WHALE Tales" to help participants memorize essential water safety messages, such as: “Swim in a Pair near a Lifeguard Chair” and “Reach or Throw, Don’t Go” (into the water after someone in distress, as the same conditions causing distress will likely compromise your safety as well. Instead, call for help.)
“The goal is to equip young people with the basic skills needed to be safe in and near the water, and potentially develop a love for swimming as a lifelong sport,” Milwaukee Recreation senior director Lynn A. Greb said.
On Thursday, May 12, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Keith P. Posley visited South Division to welcome third-grade students from Allen-Field to discuss the importance of swim skills and water safety knowledge.
Milwaukee Recreation has offered versions of this program in the past, but this is the first season it has been available to schools since the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a study conducted by USA Swimming, if a child does not learn to swim by age 10, there is only a 10 percent chance they ever will. “Waiting until high school is too late. Studies have shown us that it is necessary to expose children to water safety at a young age,” Nicole Jacobson, Milwaukee Recreation’s citywide manager of aquatics & driver education, said.
“We are excited to be back in the water this year and are already making plans to ramp up participation for the 2022-23 school year. Our vision is to see that all young people in our city are exposed to water safety and the joy of swimming.”
The month of May is Water Safety Month - celebrate with Milwaukee Recreation by joining us in the pool this season! In addition to the day school water safety program, Milwaukee Recreation provides affordable swim lessons for youth, families, and adults. Openings still remain for summer swim lessons. Through a partnership with the American Red Cross, Milwaukee Recreation offers a series of eight swim lessons for $5 at select locations. Click here to see all of Milwaukee Recreation's summer swim opportunities!