Photos courtesy of USA Swimming Foundation. Olympic Ambassadors Jessica Hardy and Jason Lezak kick off USA Swimming Foundation’s first-ever Make a Splash Games.
The USA Swimming Foundation and Olympic gold medalists Jessica Hardy and Jason Lezak hosted the first ever Make a Splash Games in Los Angeles County at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach on Tuesday.
Since 2007, the foundation’s Make a Splash initiative has enabled more than four million children to learn how to swim for free or at a low cost.
“I almost drowned as a child so encouraging children to swim is a passion of mine,” Hardy stated. “I’ve had a great career in swimming so the Make a Splash Games is an opportunity to give back to the sport that’s changed my life.”
The second leading cause of unintentional death for children under the age of 14 is drowning and is the leading cause of unintentional death for children under four years of age. According to statistics provided by the foundation, 70 percent of black children, 60 percent of Latino children and 40 percent of Caucasian children do not know how to swim.
Swimming lessons can reduce the likelihood of a child accidentally drowning by 88 percent. The USA Swimming Foundation’s goal is to provide lessons to one million children annually by December 31, 2017, according to the release.
Ten children, ages 3 to 6 years old, participated in the Olympic-style competition where they learned swimming fundamentals such as back floating, kickboard exercises and diving for toys. The event concluded with a medal ceremony celebrating the little swimmers’ accomplishments.
“The Make a Splash Games show it is never too early to sign your children up for swim lessons,” said Debbie Hesse, executive director of the USA Swimming Foundation, in a statement. “This was a fun way to demonstrate the importance of learning a potentially life-saving skill as swim deaths are the second leading cause of preventable deaths amongst children.”