The USA Swimming Foundation, in association with Phillips 66, will kick off the sixth annual Make a Splash Tour presented by Phillips 66 on May 6, 2014 in Sweeny, Texas, with a series of press events, water safety information sessions and free to low-cost swimming lessons at local partner pools throughout the country. The national tour will feature appearances by newly appointed USA Swimming Foundation Ambassadors: three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and American-record-holder for 50 and 100-yard freestyle Nathan Adrian, Olympic Gold Medalist Anthony Ervin, and returning this year are four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Janet Evans and swimming legend and Olympic Gold Medalist Rowdy Gaines. Celebrating it's 10th Anniversary this year, the USA Swimming Foundation has raised over $16 million to-date in support of its mission to save lives and build champions.
"The USA Swimming Foundation is committed to preserving innocent lives and building safer communities," said Debbie Hesse, Executive Director of the USA Swimming Foundation. "We are incredibly proud of the impact the Make a Splash Tour has made over the past five years and plan to continue educating and increasing awareness of swimming as a life skill. We are also thankful to Phillips 66, and our partners for helping us spread the message on the importance of water safety."
The USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash initiative is a national, child-focused water safety campaign. Through this initiative, the Foundation seeks to change the startling drowning statistics through three key efforts: save lives by teaching children the lifesaving skill of swimming through its national Make a Splash Local Partner Network, raise national awareness of the importance of learning to swim, and bring together a coalition of partners aligned to end drowning in the U.S. Currently, there are more than 600 Make a Splash local partners throughout the country and more than 2.2 million kids have taken swim lessons through the Make a Splash partner network. The initiative has garnered high-profile media attention from various outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, CNN Heroes, The Doctors, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, and the NBC News award-winning piece "A Swimmer's Mission" with journalist Tamron Hall.
Olympic Gold Medalists Nathan Adrian and Anthony Ervin are no strangers to the importance of childhood swimming – Adrian's parents felt very strongly about having each of their children participate in water safety and awareness programs when they were young, starting Adrian swimming at the age of five; while Ervin, after retiring from swimming back in 2004, returned to the Olympics in 2012 after spending several years teaching children to swim at clubs in New York City and Oakland, CA. Olympic Gold Medalist Janet Evans knows about the importance of teaching children to swim. As a mother herself, she has dedicated her work to further the cause of battling childhood drowning and to share life-saving advice that can help parents protect their children. Having worked with the Foundation in 2013, Evans will serve as the official "Make a Splash Mom" in 2014.
Since 1973, Phillips 66's contributions have supported the USA Swimming community through National Championships and other international competitions, publication of club development materials, and many additional endeavors. The Make a Splash Tour, which the company has sponsored since the program's inception in 2009, is a natural extension of its dedication to safety.
"Our support of the Make a Splash Tour emphasizes Phillips 66's commitment to safety and recognizes the necessity of engaging our society in building awareness for such an essential lifesaving skill," said Kristi DesJarlais, Manager, Corporate Brand and Community Investments for Phillips 66.
Sobering Drowning Statistics:
Approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and at least one in five fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14. Only 13 percent of children who come from a non-swimming household will ever learn to swim, according to a national research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis.
Seventy percent of African American children, 60 percent of Hispanic/Latino children and 40 percent of Caucasian children have little to no swimming abilities. African American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers, the CDC reports.
Drowning is also a silent killer; most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes and were in the care of one or both parents at the time, according to the Present P. Child Drowning study.