Governor Cuomo Announces Expanded Learn-to-Swim Programs to Serve An Additional 1,000 Children at State Parks This Summer

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State will provide free Learn-to-Swim programs to 1,000 additional children this summer at State Parks across New York.

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Photo by: Governor's Press Office

Albany, NY - July 14, 2015 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State will provide free Learn-to-Swim programs to 1,000 additional children this summer at State Parks across New York. The program is offered through a partnership among the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; the American Red Cross; the National Swimming Pool Foundation; the Northeast Spa and Pool Association Foundation and the New York State Department of Health.

“The Learn-to-Swim program is a great way for kids to become acquainted with the water and enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly,” Governor Cuomo said. “Alongside our private and non-profit partners, we are more than doubling the program this year to reach more children across the state. I am proud to announce the expansion of this program, and I encourage anyone who is interested to sign up for free lessons this summer.”

Lessons will be offered at:

· Allegany State Park, Cattaraugus County;
· Cayuga Lake State Park, Seneca County;
· Delta Lake State Park, Oneida County;
· Fort Niagara State Park, Niagara County;
· Grafton Lakes State Park, Rensselaer County;
· Jones Beach State Park, Nassau County;
· Lake Taghkanic State Park, Columbia County;
· Lake Tiorati Beach-Harriman State Park, Orange County;
· Mine Kill State Park, Schoharie County;
· Moreau Lake State Park, Saratoga County;
· Roberto Clemente State Park, Bronx;
· Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga County;
· Taughannock Falls State Park, Tompkins County;
· Thompson’s Lake Campground-Thacher State Park; Albany County; and
· Wildwood State Park, Suffolk County.

Programs are free and pre-registration is required. For more information on locations, schedules and how to sign up, visit the Learn-to-Swim page.

“We are thrilled that this year, with the continued support of our partners, we are more than doubling the size of the program," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, who welcomed children and families at a Learn-to-Swim event at Taughannock Falls State Park in the Town of Ulysses. “We’ve added 15 more Learn-to-Swim programs, where we expect to teach 1,000 more children to swim this summer, including many more in rural areas that have fewer opportunities for swimming lessons.”

The National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA) Foundation donated $15,000 to offset staff and program costs to enable State Parks to offer the free swim classes. The American Red Cross provides training to NYS Park lifeguards to obtain Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification. This support has allowed for the certification of approximately 22 additional Water Safety Instructors. Lifeguard staff who currently possess WSI certification will also help provide more opportunities for swim lessons. The 2015 season will see programs varying from swim lessons to water safety presentations at the 15 locations, and build on the instruction offered at state park facilities as part of programs arranged by summer camps, municipalities and other partner organizations.

“New York State’s pools and beaches offer great opportunities to cool off during hot summer days, but only if they are enjoyed safely,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “The Learn-to-Swim program gives New York’s children the foundation in swimming and aquatic skills they need to help ensure that everyone stays safe while in the water.”

"The Red Cross is proud to partner with New York State Parks to teach so many children to swim and learn about water safety this summer," said Connie Harvey, Director of the American Red Cross Centennial Initiative. "Our Learn-to-Swim programs empower kids with life-long water safety skills, and we are happy to support its continued growth in New York State.”

Enrollment for the Learn-to-Swim program for children is open at all participating New York State parks. Participants' parents are asked to sign up ahead of time as space is limited and expected to fill up quickly. Each swim program is 40 to 45 minutes in duration and participants who enroll in these lessons will receive a Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Achievement Booklet and a State Parks Learn-to-Swim kit that includes a knapsack, tee-shirt and water bottle at the conclusion of the program. Most programs are intended for children age 5-10, but this year’s schedule also includes programs for toddlers at two parks, and basic water safety presentations at three camping parks.

“Government, non-profits and industry coming together to create swimmers is exciting,” said Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO with the NSPF, founder of the Step Into Swim Campaign. “Friendships, life-long memories and safer children will be the result.”

“We are proud to continue our partnership with the New York State Parks system and thrilled to see the Learn-to-Swim program grow once again this year,” said Clive Ensher, President of the NESPA Foundation. “Expanding the program provides a great opportunity to give more children life-saving water skills as well as introduce them to a life-long love of swimming and exercise.”

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 62 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit online, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.