State to fund free swimming lessons as part of new swim safety initiative

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)– The state is providing $475,000 in grant funding to nonprofit and private organizations in an effort to expand free beginner swim lessons to Massachusetts residents of all ages.

The program is part of a larger water safety initiative including new safety infrastructure at state waterfronts and the launch of a new Swim Safe Massachusetts collaboration.

“The Commonwealth is fortunate to have beautiful waterfronts and great places for residents to cool off and have fun, but too often we have seen tragic incidents at these locations,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our Administration is committed to expanding access to swim lessons and providing residents in underserved communities an opportunity to develop this important skill to help prevent tragic accidents in and around the water.” 

The state offers free swimming lessons every summer at select Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) managed pools. This summer over 315 young people participated over three, two-week sessions. However, demand far exceeded the agency’s ability to provide enough swim lessons for all those interested. The SWIM program will significantly expand the program by reaching more residents in more communities across the Commonwealth, with a central focus on expanding access to swimming lessons for those who are most in need.

The Safe Water Initiative Massachusetts (SWIM) grant program will accept applications for funding and enroll organizations on a rolling basis through Tuesday, March 1, 2022. The DCR will award one or more contracts to qualified vendors based upon responses, service capabilities of bidders, and meeting the state’s goals.

The program is seeking partners that can provide free beginner swim lessons to Massachusetts residents of all ages. Partners, both non-profit and for-profit organizations, are asked to submit proposals for swim lesson programs at non-DCR sites to provide beginner swimming instructions. All organizations must be Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Certified, or industry equivalent.

Other efforts to improve water safety across the state include installing and expanding multilingual safety signage at all DCR’s designated swimming waterfronts and installing life ring floatation safety devices at all 78 of DCR designated waterfronts. 

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