First of it’s Kind Drowning Prevention Legislation Passes in New York

The US Swim School Association (USSSA) and New York Water Safety Coalition (NYWSC) are proud to announce the unanimous passage of a landmark piece of legislation, Senate Bill S.3608-A (Webb)/Assembly Bill A.4987-A (Pheffer Amato), that will make New York State a national leader in drowning prevention. Once signed into law by the Governor of New York, this bill will require hospitals to offer an informational video to new parents on the dangers of drowning for infants and young children.

While most New Yorkers have been touched by drowning, either through a personal experience or through that of an acquaintance, it has taken far too long for public policy to catch up to this crisis. This bill is a response to the alarming reality that, according to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of death for children under five years of age. It represents a monumental leap forward in our mission to fight drowning and empower individuals and families to keep themselves and their children safer in and around the water.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Lea Webb and Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato, requires hospitals to offer to show new parents a brief, state-approved video during the mother’s maternity stay. This bill is modeled after the existing state law that pertains to Shaken Baby Syndrome. The video will be required to highlight the dangers of drowning for infants and young children, alongside evidence-based prevention measures. A sample video prepared by the NYWSC and USSSA can be viewed here.

This bill, the first of its kind in the nation, is a testament to the NYWSC’s unwavering commitment to using education as a primary tool in the fight against drowning. The Coalition is confident this initiative will significantly raise public awareness about the risks of drowning and the importance of prevention, ushering in a safer future for all New Yorkers. Likewise, we look forward to advocating to the Governor the importance of signing this bill into law.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Senator Webb and Assemblymember Pheffer Amato, and the many co-sponsors who also supported this bill. Their dedication and commitment have brought us one step closer to our vision of a New York in which drowning is no longer a leading cause of death among children.” said NYWSC founder Brendan O’Melveny.

In addition to this, NYWSC is actively working towards the passage of Senate Bill S.5815 (Mannion)/Assembly Bill A.6205 (Reyes), which would create a statewide drowning prevention public awareness campaign. It has already passed through the Senate with unanimous support and is awaiting for a full vote on the Assembly Floor.

You can learn more about NYWSC here.

What Age to Start Swim Lessons

When you take a moment to do some digging, you can find research papers that discuss when is a good time to start swim lessons. The United States Swim School Association strongly believes that babies, toddlers and children of all ages should participate in swim lessons in a high quality aquatics program. A child of any age will never be completely “drownproof” or “watersafe,” however we can teach our children and families to be safer around the water. Keep in mind that the foundation to stroke instruction ie. learning to swim starts with instruction around water competency.

Below we share links to important research studies that show starting children early can increase their water competency and skills. And with more children ages 1-4 dying from drowning than any other cause of death, swimming is an important lifesaving skill to have.

To describe and provide research evidence regarding what physical, cognitive, & affective competencies contribute to a person’s water competence & reduce the risk of drowning.

“The younger the age at which children started lessons, the earlier the child was able to attain aquatic competencies within their developmental capabilities.”

“This pilot study showed, for the first time, a potential link between infant motor development and neonatal aquaticity.”

“Participation in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in the 1- to 4-year-old children”

“In the United States: More children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death.”

“Recent studies suggest that water survival skills training and swim lessons can help reduce drowning risk for children between ages 1-4. Classes that include both parents and their children also are a good  way to introduce good water safety habits and start building swim readiness skills. If your child seems ready, it’s a good idea to start lessons now.”

The United States Swim School Association strongly believes that babies, toddlers and children of all ages should participate in swim lessons in a high quality aquatics program.

What to Look for in a Good Learn to Swim Program

The US Swim School Association has worked together with fellow leaders of Water Safety USA to come up with this important guidance for parents, caregivers, and pediatricians. There can be a lot to consider when looking for a learn to swim program. Developed by aquatic experts, this guidance will help you make the right choice for your future swimmer.

Full Guidelines can be found HERE

New Parent Water Safety Video

The New York Water Safety Coalition is working with legislators to get important water safety information into the hands of new parents in the hospital. Modeled after the shaken baby video show at the hospital to newborn parents, this video provides important information on the number one risk of death for children 1 to 4 years old. Join us in sharing this important message with parents and caregivers.


What Caregivers Should Look for When Choosing Swim Lessons

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children get swim lessons as early as one year of age. Learning to swim has been shown to reduce the risk of drowning by 88% if children participate in formal swimming lessons between ages 1 – 4*. It can also improve sleep quality, increase cognitive skills development and offer a healthy activity for growing bodies+.

Sounds great, but what do you look for in a good learn to swim program? It is important to find a swim school that fits the needs of the student and your family. Here are some things to look for as you search to find that fit.

Look for:

  • developmentally and age appropriate activities and learning, kids learn best through play
  • positive and fun environment that focuses on the needs of the learner
  • small class sizes for young children and beginners, for beginners the USSSA minimum standard is no more than a 1 to 6 ratio with the recommendation that 1 to 4 or less is best, as well as shorter lessons in warm water for young children
  • progressive development with rewards along the way to keep your swimmer motivated and excited to learn, remember learning to swim is a process
  • friendly and helpful staff that is inclusive and strives to meet your family’s needs, one that includes parents in the process
  • safe environment with vigilant supervision by staff with completed background checks, proper use of equipment, and water safety training included in lessons
  • well qualified staff with ongoing training
  • clean facility that includes clear, well sanitized water
  • professionalism, including participation in a national association such as the US Swim School Association with minimum standards

Here are some questions you can use to get you started as you visit swim schools in your area:

  1. What is your instructor to child ratio?
  2. How long is each lesson?
  3. How do you determine what level my child should start at?
  4. What tools do you use to keep students motivated and excited to learn?
  5. How often do you review water safety with students and with parents?
  6. What first aid and safety equipment do you have onsite?
  7. Can parents watch the lesson (or if a young child, do the parents participate with the child in the lesson)?
  8. Are all staff over 18 background checked?
  9. How often do instructors receive training? What certifications do instructors hold?
  10. How often is your pool water checked for proper levels to maintain clean water?
  11. What organizations does your swim school participate in?

There are many swim schools that offer year-round lessons, so today is a great day to start your search and get signed up. You can find a list of schools in your area by visiting:

*Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine 2014
+Griffith Study 2013