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Diversity in Aquatics CEO Miriam Lynch, Communications and Engagement Director Danielle Veira, and Strategist and Social Innovator Michael Golden Join Board Of National Water Safety Nonprofit

GREENWICH, CT  September 16, 2020 The ZAC Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving water safety by funding advocacy, education, and effective programming to safeguard children and their families, today announced the appointment of three new Board members: Diversity in Aquatics CEO Miriam Lynch, communications and engagement director Danielle Veira, and strategist and social innovator Michael Golden. The appointments are effective immediately.

“We are pleased to welcome Miriam, Danielle and Michael to our Board, and look forward to having their invaluable perspectives and leadership,” said Karen Cohn, co-founder of The ZAC Foundation, which has provided water safety programming to more than 20,000 children in at-risk communities nationwide and is spearheading the development of drowning prevention plans in four U.S. communities in the hopes of reducing the national drowning rate. “Each of them will serve a key role as we continue our work to prepare children and their families for a lifetime of water safety.”

Lynch is an advocate for increasing aquatic opportunities and water safety education to all. She collaborates with several aquatic organizations to raise awareness, create community partnerships, and develop solutions to reduce the “drowning gap.” As the CEO of Diversity in Aquatics, Lynch, along with a team of volunteers, works to educate, promote, and support swimming, water safety, and healthy aquatic activities in traditionally underrepresented populations.

“I am excited to join the Board of The ZAC Foundation, which is committed to creating equitable opportunities in aquatics by increasing access to swim lessons and water safety education for children and families in communities that have been impacted by historical and social barriers,” said Lynch. 

Veira is the director of communications and engagement at A Better Chicago, a nonprofit venture philanthropy fund fighting poverty by investing in opportunities for Black and Latinx low-income youth. She leads the organization’s strategic communications, digital marketing, and thought leadership efforts. Prior to moving to Chicago, Veira spent more than a decade in Washington, DC working in nonprofit communications, most recently as the senior manager of public relations and advocacy communications at the American Diabetes Association.

“It is an honor to be appointed to the Board of The ZAC Foundation,” said Veira. “I have been inspired and impressed by the Foundation’s work for years and lucky enough to see the impact ZAC Camps make firsthand. Children who look like me face a variety of disparities whether it’s access to health care, quality education or water safety training. As a child of the Caribbean and a lover of swimming myself, I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work alongside my fellow Board members to further the Foundation’s outstanding work to eradicate systemic inequities related to water safety and drowning prevention.” 

A social entrepreneur, former award-winning journalist, campaign strategist and political reformer, Golden is president of Golden Mean Strategies in Chicago. He has dedicated the bulk of his career to launching social enterprises that create opportunity in underserved communities. In 2006, he co-founded One Million Degrees, a breakthrough scholarship support program that has empowered more than 1,800 low-income community college students to succeed in school, work and life.

“Joining the Board of The ZAC Foundation is more than an honor for me — it is personal. I loved Zachary, and the entire Cohn family is like my own family. I am tremendously proud and in awe of what they have built in Zach’s name: a huge-hearted water safety organization that works to save lives in every corner of this country. It will be a genuine thrill to contribute to their mission as a new member of the Board of Directors,” said Golden. 

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About The ZAC Foundation

The ZAC Foundation was established in 2008 by Karen and Brian Cohn after the loss of their 6-year-old son Zachary Archer Cohn in a pool drain entrapment in their backyard swimming pool. Through education and advocacy, the Foundation has educated more than 20,000 children and their families on the importance of water safety and is dedicated to continue preparing more for a lifetime of water safety. To learn more about The ZAC Foundation, connect with the organization on Facebook and TheZACFoundation.org

water safety educational resources

Teaching kids, teens and even adults how to be safe near and in the water as well as what to do if anything ever goes wrong is paramount to prevent unintentional drowning incidents, both fatal and non-fatal.

The following programs have been designed to offer proper guidance in the matter and can be added to any school or homeschool curriculum.

Stop Drowning Now

The Safer 3 in the classroom

Stop Drowning Now’s Water Safety Curriculum teaches kids how to recognize drowning risks and to protect themselves and others. The Curriculum is specifically designed for young kids’ learning needs. Through an experiential approach, kids participate in the discovery and identification process, and learn preventative measures as well as emergency responses.

Water Safety With Colin & Friends

Water Safety With Colin & Friends is a comprehensive water safety education tool. The classroom-based curriculum focuses on 5 key rules that can help children make safer choices around all types of water, such as waiting for an adult before going in or near water and wearing a life jacket. The full kit includes activities like songs, water safety games, and even a science experiment. The program is evidence-based, continues to be evaluated for efficacy, and has been proven with statistical significance to increase children’s water safety knowledge!

Kidshealth In The Classroom

KidsHealth in the Classroom by Nemours offers educators free health-related lesson plans for PreK through 12th grade. Each Teacher’s Guide includes discussion questions, classroom activities and extensions, printable handouts, and quizzes and answer keys all aligned to National Health Education Standards.

For water safety educational resources search under Personal Health.

Josh The Otter Water Safety & Awareness Project

Drowning is preventable. Teach this life-saving message.


Demonstrate the importance of water safety with Josh the Baby Otter. This guide will help you educate young children about drowning prevention through a fun and interactive classroom activity.

Water Smart Education Toolkit

Curriculum materials to teach Water Safety have been developed by Royal Life Saving Australia together with education resource specialists, teachers and water safety instructors.

The teaching resources in the Water Smart education toolkit outline appropriate learning outcomes and have taken into consideration the new Australian National Curriculum for all years from Foundation to Year 10. The key components of the resource toolkit include Units of Work, Teachers Notes, Activity Sheets, Safety Tips and Supplementary Resources.

Curriculum Swimming and Water Safety Resource Pack

Swim England and the Swim Group have created a resource pack for all those involved in the delivery of curriculum swimming and water safety.

The resource pack has been split into four to provide dedicated information for each  group. Each section provides practical guidance on how to plan, deliver and report on curriculum swimming and water safety.

Water Safety Resources 

Teachers Pay Teachers is a great database for educators to find the resources, knowledge, and inspiration they need to teach at their best. They offer more than 3 million free and paid resources, created by educators who understand what works in the classroom and have a great selection of water safety materials that can be used in the classroom for kids from PreK to 12th grade.

Water safety resources for teachers

Water Safety for Kids

The American Red Cross offers resources to help your child learn about water safety while having fun in and around water.

2020 Events

The ultimate goal of the following events is to bring together professionals and supporters from all aspects of aquatics and drowning prevention to network, advocate, educate, improve, and expand the entire industry in the country.

World Aquatic Health Conference

The World Aquatic Health Conference is the industry’s leading educational conference on aquatics. Celebrating its 17th year, WAHC 2020 will continue the tradition of disseminating cutting edge science relevant to all segments of the pool and spa market.

Join virtually on October 15-16 to experience cutting-edge aquatic research presented by industry experts across the globe and network with like-minded professionals, industry leaders and experts.

USSSA National Conference

Come together virtually September 15-17, 2020 with top notch industry speakers, fellow members, industry partners, and friends at this year’s USSSA National Conference! The agenda is comprised of live sessions, on-demand sessions, and interactive workshops. 

Although this year’s conference is different than years past, it is not one to be missed! 

WWA 40th Anniversary Symposium & Trade Show

Join fellow waterpark owners, operators, developers, designers and suppliers for the WWA’s 40th Anniversary Symposium & Trade Show, October 6-9, 2020, at Caesars Forum Conference Center & Harrah’s Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

The trade show will be located at the all new Caesars Forum Conference Center, which is located behind the High Roller in the LINQ Promenade area. The headquarters hotel will be Harrah’s Las Vegas, which is connected to the Caesars Forum Conference Center.

The WWA Show continues to be the water leisure industry’s most popular market place for the waterpark industry, as it offers the following opportunities for professional growth and development. To review complete details about the show or to register, click below. 

The International Pool, Spa and Patio Expo

The International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo, co-located with DeckExpo (PSP/DeckExpo), is reimagining this year’s event.

The decision to transition the event was not reached easily, however, based on feedback and the support of the community, the organization felt it was the right choice for their partners, sponsoring associations, attendees, and exhibitors. The virtual event will be hosted over the same dates, November 11 – 13, with registration opening later this fall. 

If you have an event the NDPA should be aware of, let us know in a comment!

Abbey's Hope PSA

The water safety non-profit reminds parents and caregivers to avoid distracted supervision around pools.

MINNEAPOLIS—There’s a perfect storm of circumstances conspiring against adults’ ability to keep kids safe around pools and lakes this summer. Electronic devices continue to dominate our attention. And the COVID-19 pandemic has more adults working from home and supervising their children at the same time. For those with backyard pools, this poses an especially significant danger which has been brought to life in a chilling PSA from Abbey’s Hope.

The 30-second spot, “Watch Me!” features an all-too familiar scene: a distracted mom on the phone, laptop open as her young child splashes in the water, clamoring for her attention. What happens next is summed up by a provocative message superimposed on screen: “88% of child drownings occur with an adult nearby. 100% of those adults will never forgive themselves.” The spot concludes by inviting the viewer to become a Water Watchdog, which is an active supervision program started by Abbey’s Hope. To date, nearly 10,000 people have registered to take the pledge and receive their iconic Abbey’s Hope Water Watchdog ‘dog tag,’ a tangible reminder of the need to be vigilant when supervising children around water.

“It’s sadly ironic that we often tell our kids that we’re watching them, when we’re not,” said Katey Taylor, who along with husband Scott Taylor, founded Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation in response to the tragic death of their daughter, Abbey, following a pool drain entrapment incident in 2007. Taylor added, “Vigilant supervision has never been more important or required greater discipline, given the world we live in.”

 Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 379 pool- or spa-related fatal drownings reported per year for 2015 through 2017, involving children younger than 15 years of age.  The vast majority of those deaths were to children ages 4 and under.

The PSA will launch 7/20/20 on social media and is free to use and can be accessed at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZgSYeaUqWc  It also will be broadcast on local television during the summer months when pool and lake usage is at its peak. 

About Abbey’s Hope:
Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation is a Minnesota nonprofit organization named after Abbey Taylor, the Edina, Minn., six-year-old who died in 2008 as a result of injuries sustained by an improperly maintained pool drain cover. 

The Foundation’s goal is to: 

●      Promote awareness of, and education, related to child safety issues, including educating pool owners, operators, inspectors, and the general public about the dangers of pool entrapment, evisceration and drowning and the need for physical inspections of pool equipment.

●      Work with the pool and spa industry to improve the design of its products, packaging and warning labels, and assist in the development of product safety standards related to such products.

●      Identify and provide support and assistance to organizations and programs that help educate parents, children, and pool and spa manufacturers about the prevention of entrapment and traditional forms of drowning.  

Find out more about Abbey’s Hope at http://www.abbeyshope.org/

###

Alison Petri
Program Manager
Abbey’s Hope Foundation
952.303.5421763.331.1899(cell)
alison@abbeyshope.org

10 open water safety tips

Lakes, beaches and rivers are popular destinations for families during the summer season. It’s the best way to have some fun family time and remain cool as soon as temperatures rise but it’s not without risk.

Most children in the U.S. drown in open water which includes natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans as well as man-made bodies of water like canals, reservoirs, and retention ponds. In 2016, open water drownings made up 43 percent of fatal childhood drownings.*

Beaches are a favorite destination during the summer months

The first thing needed to prevent drowning incidents when in open water is learning how to swim which has proven to be a lifesaving skill that can reduce the chances of drowning by 88%. Following the tips below will also ensure you have the most amount of fun by reducing the risks and hazards that come with open water.

1.- Swim in a designated swimming area
Most state parks, beaches, and lakefront areas have designated times where swimming is allowed and use flags to indicate borders in which people can swim. Never swim outside those defined areas. Also, preferably swim under the supervision of a qualified lifeguard.

2.- When in doubt, get out
Don’t hesitate to get out of the water if something doesn’t feel right. Whether it’s that the current is getting rough, rain has started to fall or your body is just not responding like you would like it to due to fatigue or muscle cramps, then just leave and return to the water another day. It’s always a good thing to trust your instincts.

3.- Know the conditions
Check the water temperature and weather conditions before hitting the water. If the water temperature is low, your best option would be to swim with a wetsuit and don’t stay too long in the water. Bear in mind it’s not safe to swim in the rain, particularly if there is thunder and lightning. If the weather changes, don’t hesitate to swim back shore.

4.- Never Swim Alone
When you head out into the open water, go with a “swim buddy”, someone who’s looking out for you and who you’re looking out for in turn. Remember the lifeguard isn’t your “swim buddy”; they have lots of people to track when on duty and cannot be concerned with a particular person’s safety. Besides, you’ll probably have more fun swimming with a friend.

5.- Choose the right equipment
It’s very important to always choose the right equipment for your open water activity: wetsuits if the water is cold, goggles if swimming, and so on. Please note that if water temperatures are over 75-80 degrees, a wetsuit might not be a good idea. Using one for extended periods could cause heat exhaustion.

6.- Understand currents
Uncontrollables are all part of experiencing the ocean and open bodies of water. Rip tides, other currents and waves can all sweep you away from your swimming route. By choosing a static “beacon” on your boat or at the shore you’ll be able to determine if you are being swept away or not. If you do get caught in a riptide, don’t panic. Try to remain calm and swim parallel to shore to get out of it. If you try to swim against the current, you might get exhausted and really panic even more.

7.- No Alcohol
Alcohol affects your perception of danger, making you more likely to take unnecessary risks. Alcohol also impairs your balance and coordination – all essential for swimming and boating and avoiding hazards in the water. So don’t drink while in the water.

8.- Wear USCG-approved life vest
Young children, weak swimmers and everybody in general should wear life jackets whenever they are in, on or around the water, even at a pool or a waterpark. It should be put on at the dock, deck or shore and not taken off until you return to dry land.

9.- Have A Plan For Emergencies
Always have a plan to handle and face emergencies whenever you go out to the water with a swim buddy or alone. Tell someone else where you are going. Having someone watching from the shore, ready to take action should you need any help, is a wise decision. Plan for every possible incident and eliminate as much uncertainty as possible.

10.- Swim parallel to the shore
If ever caught in a rip current, don’t let fear cloud your judgement. You could be swept away from shore very quickly. The best way to escape a rip current is by swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it, since most rip currents are an average of 100 feet wide. Try to relax and breathe keeping your head above water, and don’t wear yourself out by trying to get out of the rip by swimming against the force of the current.

*Source: Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children. Safe Kids Worldwide. May 2018.

who should wear a life jacket

Water Safety USA, a consortium of national nonprofit and governmental organizations focused on drowning prevention, has announced its water safety message for 2020. “#BeBuoyant: Life Jackets Save Lives.” A properly fit life jacket is a very effective life-saving strategy in the quest to reduce the number of fatal drowning incidents in the country.

Who should wear a life jacket?

  • Anyone participating in any boating, paddling or towed water sport regardless of swimming ability.
  • Inexperienced or non-swimmers in pool or open water situations when other layers of protection are limited.
  • Preschool children—those about 5 years and younger—who are not protected by touch supervision either in or near the water. Touch supervision means being within an arm’s reach of the child(ren) at all times.


In addition, it is recommended that everyone who is in or around open water wear a life jacket as an extra layer of protection, especially outside of a lifeguarded area.

Anyone participating in any boating, paddling or towed water sports regardless of swimming ability.
​Wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved properly fitted life jacket is the simplest life-saving strategy for recreational boating, paddling or towed water sports.

According to U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics in 2018 there were 4,145 reported accidents, 2,511 reported injuries, and 633 deaths on our nation’s waterways. A majority of those deaths (77%) were due to drowning and 84% of those were not wearing a life jacket. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers statistics show that for the last ten years most of the water-related fatalities that occurred at their lake and river projects were men (87%) age 18 and older (86%) and 87% were not wearing a life jacket.

Many people who participate in boating or a boating activity including fishing, hunting, paddling and towed water sports generally don’t think they will drown because they know how to swim, don’t plan on getting in the water, or it is a nice calm day so nothing is going to happen. Alcohol can impair one’s judgment and abilities in and around water. While enjoying your favorite boating activity please keep in mind that there is always a risk of drowning so expect the unexpected and prepare for it by wearing a properly fitted life jacket.

Inexperienced or non-swimmers in pool or open water situations when other layers of protection are limited.
Most people associate life jackets with boating, but they can also help provide support for inexperienced and non-swimmers in or around water, including open water, such as lakes, oceans, ponds, reservoirs and rivers, as well as controlled environments, such as a pool, waterpark or lifeguarded beach. Almost half of 10 to 17-year old’s who fatally drowned could swim according to available information on swimming in the National Child Death Case Reporting System for 2005-2014.

Inexperienced or non-swimmers, particularly children, are at risk in these settings when supervision lapses or the venue is very crowded. Life jackets provide an additional layer of protection in these situations.

Preschool children—those about 5 years and younger—who are not protected by touch supervision; Touch supervision means staying within an arm’s reach of the child(ren) at all times. An analysis of child death review data found that supervision was missing almost half of the time that a child fatally drowned in a pool.

Swimming aids and water toys, such as water wings, and inflatable water wings and rings, are toys. They may provide some buoyancy in the water, but they do not prevent drowning.

Parents should remain attentive even if their children are skilled at swimming and comfortable in the water. Even though a child has become comfortable in the water, and with wearing a life jacket, constant supervision is still needed when they are in or around the water. Young children do not have the developmental maturity to reliably or consistently follow directions or safe practices, to have judgment or the ability to recognize risks.

Everyone needs to learn how to swim without a life jacket. Can’t swim? Enroll yourself and your children in high quality swim lessons. Continue the journey of learning to swim and regularly getting in a pool with your children without life jackets.


In addition, it is recommended that everyone who is in or around open water wear a life jacket as an extra layer of protection, especially outside of a lifeguarded area.
While drowning in swimming pools gets significant attention, the fact is that more Americans fatally drown in open water. More than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among teens and young adults ages 15 and older (57% each) occur in natural water settings.

There is also an alarming difference in the number of fatal drownings in open water by gender, with males, and particularly teens and young adult males, at greatest risk. (84% of open water drownings in children ages 0-19 occurring in males, with males 10 to 14 years old 15.4 times the risk compared to females).

​Adults are also at risk. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has found that the majority of water-related fatalities that occurred at USACE lake and river projects nationwide were people age 18 or older (86%), male (87%), not wearing a life jacket (87%), and associated with swimming (54%).

One factor contributing to fatal drownings in open water may be the expectation that because an individual is able to swim in a pool, he/she will be safe in open water. However, open water, which includes lakes, oceans, ponds, reservoirs and rivers, has hidden hazards that can increase the risk of drowning. These include sudden drop-offs, dangerous currents, vegetation and rocks, colder temperatures, difficult-to-judge distances, rougher water including waves, limited visibility and more.

These environmental differences from the pool setting make it important for people who want to swim, wade, or just play in open water to find designated areas for swimming. If swimming outside of a designated area or in an area without lifeguards, people should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved properly fitted life jacket appropriate for their weight and water activity.

Originally published on Water Safety USA.

water safety free resources

The fact that swimming schools have closed until further notice is no reason to bring your children’s water safety education to a halt. If you are like most parents that are now homeschooling their kids, take the opportunity to add water safety and drowning prevention to your daily activities with these fun, free and educational resources.

Make a splash in your family’s routine! 

Goldfish Swim School offers an array of screen-free activities, like coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, games and more! New activities are added periodically so be sure to check their site every few days.

Goldfish Swimschool Printables
Goldfish Swim School Activities

The school also offers some great tips on ways your kids can keep honing their swimming skills even though pools are closed. Check them out here.

Get The Party Started!

CPR Party™ offers fun, age appropriate and entertaining printable resources on their site which were designed to help teach your kids first aid and equip them with the life saving skill of CPR. You can add them to your homeschooling schedule or even host your own CPR Party™ at home with the entire family!

Your kids can now start learning CPR at home!

You can find more CPR Party™ resources here.

RNLI Water Safety Wednesdays

The RNLI, in their quest for ways to engage, educate and entertain kids at home about water safety, are hosting live, interactive video sessions for primary school age children on their Facebook Page. Sessions are streamed on Wednesdays at 10:15am.

Water Safety Wednesdays hosted by the RNLI.

Water Safety With Josh & Friends

The Josh the Otter Program also offers free resources and activities that kids can do at home to further their water safety education and instill in them Josh’s key message: To stay away from water unless accompanied by an adult.

Begin their easy to follow Water Safety 101 course by reading Josh The Baby Otter then take the easy Water Safety Quiz and wrap up the lesson with fun coloring pages, word finds and even make a Josh The Otter puppet!

Captain Paxton Coloring Book

Created by WS365, the North Richland Hills Water Safety Program, this lively coloring book teaches your kids some very important water safety lessons like never swim without an adult, stay away from drains and learn to swim.

Pool Safely Kids Activity Corner

You can find Pool Safely‘s educational videos and activities that help children enjoy learning about pool safety and family fun in the water on their website.

Pool Safely Coloring Sheet

Virtual Activities For The Entire Family

Colin’s Hope is bringing fun and interactive learning experiences to the entire family! Gather children of all ages (even teens!) and learn about water safety in new ways.

Drowning won’t stop, so neither will we and neither should you! Your support will allow us to continue educating and advocating water safety to prevent child drownings.

WLSL2020

Due to delayed opening dates for most aquatic venues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WLSL has issued the following statement:

“We know that the last few weeks have been difficult for all of us. As a global community we’ve been asked to make big changes in a short time to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and there are still a lot of unanswered questions about when and if we will be able to get back to our normal operations. Yet, despite facing so many unknowns, we’ve been inspired to see you sharing water safety tips, lesson plans and activities about why it’s important to learn to swim, designate adult water watchers and provide layers of protection.

Although our WLSL event might look different than it has in the past, we believe that spreading the Swimming Lessons Save Lives message whenever we can is still so important. To that end, we’ve decided to offer all host locations two options to be part of TEAM WLSL in 2020:

First, we’re shifting our official WLSL event date to July 16, 2020 to allow more facilities a chance to get open or to reopen.

Second, if July 16th will not work for your schedule, you will have the option to host your 2020 WLSL event on any day of your choosing in June, July or August.

We hope that these two options will give more of you flexibility in supporting this year’s WLSL event. In the coming days, we will be working on updates to the curriculum to address social distancing and we will be creating a collection of revised marketing materials for you to use to promote your 2020 event.

WLSL Logo

We hope that you will join TEAM WLSL on either July 16th or whatever day works best for you this summer!

In the meantime, stay safe and follow your local guidelines until we are given the go-ahead to open for the summer.”

NDPA Webinar series

The NDPA Webinar Series is an educational initiative that aims to offer expert insight on  a plurality of topics pertaining to water safety and drowning prevention throughout the year. 

Here’s a list of our first 10 webinar sessions that you can watch on our site now!

Our first webinar discussed the American Academy of Pediatrics updated statement on the prevention of drowning, with Dr. Julie Gilchrist and Nicole Hughes, founder of Levi’s Legacy.




Dr. Andrea Taliaferro along with Ailene Tisser, MA PT and Cindy Freedman, MOTR, CTRS, founders of Swim Angelfish, lead the discussion on water safety and drowning prevention for individuals with disabilities and autism.

Waves, temperature, currents, weather… they can all be obstacles to the practice of open water swimming. Guest speakers Mario Vittone and US Coast Guard Licensed Master Michael Carr.




This webinar covers what has worked well and what hasn’t for community water safety initiatives, how to connect with your community, how to gain support from your community, how to identify resources in your community, and other related topics.

This discussion covers federal water safety legislation with a focus on VGB and the proposed legislation on water safety education in schools in New Jersey with our expert panel which includes Alan Korn, J.D., Sean Kean, J.D., and Joe Oehme.




Led by Mick Nelson, the Facilities Development Senior Director at USA Swimming, this webinar is focused on drowning data and a discussion on the role that commercial aquatic facilities play in drowning prevention.

National Safe Boating Council‘s Executive Director, Peg Phillips, and Communication Director, Yvonne Pentz join us as we discuss life jacket use in the U.S., life jacket laws, and the “Wear It!” campaign.




How can more schools adopt water safety education programs? We answer this and other questions with the expertise of Stop Drowning Now and Colin’s Hope, both organizations that have existing and implemented drowning prevention curriculums in schools.

Physicians prescribing swim lessons to parents and children is a topic of great interest for most families in the U.S. Lana Whitehead, President of Water Smart Babies and Dr. Todd Vedder, MD with Atrium Health discuss it at length.




Our two guest experts in marketing and communication, Laura Metro, Owner of The Marketing Spirit and NDPA Board Member and Kent Nelson, Digital Marketing Specialist at Counsilman Hunsaker, discuss the ins and outs of navigating social media around a complex issue.

Don’t miss any of our upcoming webinars. Dates and topics will be announced on our social media profiles.

Finding a water safety program

Sarah Christianson is a wife, mother, RN, model and water safety advocate. The views expressed in this article are entirely her own and do not represent the opinions of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance.

The smile on her face quickly faded and soon tears started to surface with a look of fear accompanied by the silent plead for me to come save her. This is what no parent wants to watch unfold. Being torn from wanting to jump into full mommy mode and whisk your daughter away from her fear or the side of making her stick with the swim class that she has quickly grown to hate.

My daughter Aubrey, 5 years old, had just started weekly swim lessons at one of our local gyms. We happen to luck out with her being the only kiddo to sign up for her time slot. Hello private lessons without the price tag (mom win)! She loved every moment of them, the 1:1 attention, the constant praise and reinforcement from her instructor. Each end to the lesson she would have the biggest smile on her face and ask how many days until next week’s lesson. I couldn’t be happier! I mean, how could I not be jumping for joy to see my daughter be excited to learn one of the most important skills in life?! Little did I know that the joy would be short lived.

On week three the instructor informed me that a set of siblings would be joining the class. They had been signed up in the wrong class and now moved to Aubrey’s class. She let Aubrey and myself know that they were “deathly afraid of water” and would need lots of help . I remember her smiling at Aubrey, saying “but I know you can help me and show them how brave we can be in the water.” The mommy red flag was starting to wave like the flag at the beginning of a Nascar race. It wasn’t my daughter’s job to show them the ropes, and if they needed that much attention what would happen to Aubrey during the class? So many questions swirled, but only time would tell.

The following week we headed into swim lessons and quickly spotted the new additions to her class. Both were crying, one more than the other, and neither wanting to go anywhere near the pool. As I sat and watched the instructor try to get them into the water I glanced over at Aubrey who was standing in the water wide eyed with a look of “what is happening?” written clearly across her face. The majority of the class was spent trying to help the new kiddos stop crying and Aubrey looking back at me with a look of confusion as her turns were shortened. I wondered how long this would continue. After class I praised Aubrey for trying her hardest and for showing the kiddos how fun being in swim lessons could be. She was a little quieter than usual, but I didn’t want any extra focus or conversation on the fear of the others or how she didn’t get as much attention.

Before we knew it the week had passed and we were back for the next lesson. This is when everything fully flipped. We not only were told we had a new instructor, but the new kiddos were almost double the tears and fears then last week. Aubrey’s smiles faded before the whole group even got into the water. This is when the facial pleads for help surfaced and the tears started to arise. Aubrey would motion that she needed to go to the bathroom and once in the bathroom she would stall, fully knowing she was missing out in class. The class would eventually end and she cried and cried, begging me not to make her go back, that she never wanted to go in the water again.

I’m a strong believer that every child, no matter the age, needs to learn to float and swim! It’s essential in life! So what was I supposed to do for my daughter? There were other swim facilities in town, but I had heard similar stories of large kid to instructor ratios and stories of moms that had to jump into the class to grab their child because the instructor wasn’t watching and the child was treading water. I didn’t feel qualified to teach my daughter to float and swim, because what did I know of all the proper techniques? I came from the days of your parents throwing you in the local pool and just telling you to paddle like a dog and figure it out. I wanted something different, something better for my daughter.

It truly was a miracle that the same day as the last swim lesson someone told me about the Float 4 Life National Training Center right here in Lincoln. I immediately jumped on social media and stalked their page and then their website. From the 1:1 ratios and the fact that they have the Josh the Otter Water Safety and Awareness Program had me ready to make an appointment. After meeting with staff at Float 4 Life I realized within minutes this is were Aubrey needed to be! This is where we would reverse the fear and see joy again!

There’s something to be said about watching your child overcome fear and grow with excitement in what they are doing. I’m so grateful that I listened to my mothers intuition and sought out a different alternative to where we were at. I believe that we always have the opportunity to change our paths in life, no matter the journey we are on, and this was exactly what we did for our daughter! We chose to not settle and find something better for her! This is why it’s so important for me to spread the word about not settling for mediocre and demand the best when it comes to our kids and learning this life skill!

The relief I feel knowing my daughter is getting amazing instructions and no longer has the paralyzing fear of water means the world to me! I already have several friends asking questions and making appointments to have their kiddos come to Float 4 Life, because they’ve seen the difference and thought they just had to tough it out. If my journey with Aubrey helps at least one child have a better experience with learning to swim then that means that’s one more child that we prevent from drowning!  I hope I can help educate more parents about the importance of water safety and what to look for before enrolling in water safety training.

Sarah Christianson

@always_be_unstoppable