- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces Funding for Swim Lessons
Ilyse Wolberg, DCR Press Secretary
BOSTON — In an effort to increase access to swimming lessons and enhance water safety, the Healey-Driscoll Administration today announced funding for the Safe Water Initiative Massachusetts (SWIM) program to expand free swimming lessons to children and adults across the Commonwealth. The SWIM Request for Responses (RFR) makes available $350,000 for nonprofit and private entities, enabling these partner organizations to offer free, beginner swim lessons to Massachusetts residents of all ages.
“Every year, swim instructors at state pools teach hundreds of residents how to swim,” said Governor Maura Healey. “With this funding provided for the SWIM program, we can expand free swim lessons and partner with private organizations to reach even more children and adults across Massachusetts. Healthy, fun, outdoor recreation should be available to all.”
“Providing free swim lessons is one way the Commonwealth aims to ensure a fun and safe experience for visitors to state pools and waterfronts,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “The SWIM program will allow us to join with partners to help expand access to swim lessons particularly in environmental justice communities.”
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 instruction. All instructors must hold Red Cross Water Safety Instructor certification, or industry equivalent.
The SWIM program will accept applications for funding and enroll organizations on a rolling basis, with all funding distributed by June 30, 2023. Using the RFR process, DCR will award contracts to qualified vendors based upon responses, service capabilities, and the best interests of the Commonwealth in meeting its goals. Preference will be given to applicants that serve environmental justice communities.
“DCR waterfronts and pools provide a fun opportunity for families to get outside and cool off during the summer months,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca L. Tepper. “Ensuring people know how to swim is a matter of equity and the SWIM program funding will enable even more people to benefit from free swim lessons.”
“DCR is committed to providing swim lessons to anyone looking to learn, in an effort to encourage safety at all agency-managed pools and waterfronts,” said DCR Commissioner Doug Rice. “Last year, DCR provided swim lessons to hundreds of children through the Learn to Swim program, we look forward to working with partner organizations to reach even more children and adults through the SWIM program this year.”
In addition to the SWIM program, DCR has implemented a number of measures focused on creating a safer environment for visitors to public beaches and pools. As part of this effort, during the summer months, the agency conducts regular water quality testing, uses ropes and buoys to mark safe swimming areas, displayed safety signage that can be translated into seven languages using a QR code, and installed life rings at all 81 of the agency’s designated swimming areas and other key locations for the public to use in the event of an emergency.
In addition to the SWIM program the agency also provides free swimming lessons, which are offered every summer at select DCR-managed pools. Last summer, DCR provided free swimming lessons to over 700 young people at 19 DCR swimming pools over three, two-week sessions. 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.
Interested organizations can submit a bid and other necessary materials online using the RFR.