Jun 06, 2011 / by Nicholas Testa

When: July 23, 1827

What: According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, six in 10 Americans say they are going on vacation this year, which means more people heading to pools, beaches and water parks. While swimming is fun and great exercise, observing even the most basic safety has been shown to be a crucial element in reducing accidents. Enjoy the water safely this July 23 on the anniversary of the first U.S. swimming school.

Background: The first swimming school was established in Boston on July 23, 1827, by German-American intellectuals Francis Lieber and Charles Follen, who believed that fitness of both mind and body was important. The concept of a swimming school was so novel at the time that it warranted a visit from President John Quincy Adams. In a similar vein, Lieber and Follen also introduced gymnasiums to Boston education.

Story Pitch: This topic can encompasses the pool and swimming industries, as well as the public health and safety sectors. Those who work to design and market pool safety measures, such as depth markers, fences, and cleaning systems will want to emphasize that a safe swimming environment goes hand in hand with learning to swim. Properly equipped pools help to prevent accidental drowning and infections from contaminated water. Competitive swimming clubs can also take this event as a chance to promote swimming instruction not just as a way to be safe, but as a good sport for adults and children. Keeping up an exercise routine during hot weather can be a challenge, but swimming provides a way to do so and stay cool. Public health and safety groups would also do well to remind the public of water hazards that occur outside of traditional swimming pools such as on fishing trips or a beach visit, whether that’s something as simple as knowing how to prevent muscle cramps to knowing how to handle being stuck in an undertow.

Story Hook: Swim training for children as young as one to four years old can reduce their risk of drowning by 88 percent, but what else should parents do to keep children safe around water? Keep the following in mind while making your pitch:

  • What are safe alternatives to public pools, if one isn’t available?
  • What common mistakes do people make when swimming?
  • What types of training do lifeguards undergo? How can the average person obtain this training?
  • What are the health benefits of being an active swimmer?

Tips: Be sure to provide contact info for a swim instructor or competitive swimmer who can talk about the importance of swim safety, as well as the health benefits of swimming.


Centers for Disease Control Water Safety Site

National Swimming Pool Foundation
(719) 540-9119

USA Swimming
(719) 866-4578

United States Lifesaving Association
(866) 367-8752

–Researched, compiled & written by Nicholas Testa
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