Swimways Kicks off Summer Season with ‘National Learn to Swim Day’ on Saturday, May 18, 2013
Second Annual Campaign Will Raise Awareness about the Importance of Learning to Swim Through Free, Online Materials and a Partnership with Prominent Water Safety Expert
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – (BUSINESS WIRE) - Swimways Corp., a leader in the recreational water products marketplace and creator of the SwimWays® Swim Steps™ program that helps kids learn to swim, announced today the campaign for its second annual ‘National Learn to Swim Day,’ taking place on Saturday, May 18, 2013. Dedicated to educating parents and children about water safety, National Learn to Swim Day is an opportunity for families to learn about the importance and benefits of learning to swim before Memorial Day Weekend and the start of summer.On May 18, Swimways encourages families nationwide to participate in National Learn to Swim Day in their own way, whether that means enrolling children in local swimming instruction, hosting a group swimming lesson, or discovering the tools that Swimways provides families, including its Swim Steps learn-to-swim program and online water safety resources available on Swimways’ dedicated Swim Steps website www.TeachMeToSwim.com.“Swimming is an activity that people all over the world enjoy come summertime,” said Monica Jones, marketing director, Swimways. “In order to take part in all the fun the water can offer, children must be taught at an early age the fundamentals of swimming. This year we’re excited to partner with water safety expert Mario Vittone, to highlight the fundamentals of swimming and bring important swimming and water safety guidance to families, on behalf of the campaign.”
Mario Vittone, former Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmer and water safety expert, will work closely with Swimways to provide free swimming safety resources to families. Vittone will give expert advice on topics and challenges related to teaching children to swim on www.TeachMeToSwim.com throughout the summer. In addition to the expert advice, families will be able to download an event guide, poster, coloring sheets and accomplishment certificates on the dedicated site.
“Whether a child is in a bathtub or at a backyard barbeque, whenever a body of water is present, the risk of drowning exists,” said Vittone. “It is important that adults are aware of the risk factors, and educate both themselves and their children about water safety not only on National Learn to Swim Day, but throughout the year as well.”
SwimWays’ Swim Steps program is a three-step program that features colorful swim-training aids specially designed to help parents teach kids to swim at home. The first step of the program is designed to introduce and comfortably support babies in the water; step two products give children the ability and freedom to explore as they develop confidence and learn to balance and paddle (two important pre-swimming skills); and step three products provide graduated support, helping kids to feel empowered and confident as they strengthen and perfect their swimming skills.
Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Swimways is a privately owned leisure and recreational water products manufacturer whose mission is making free time more fun through innovation. It is a company rich in traditional values and respected for the quality and integrity of its products and services. With distribution in over 50,000 storefronts, it markets three unique brands: SwimWays®, Kelsyus® and Coop®. With offices in Hong Kong and the United States, the company’s diverse staff is passionate about developing fun and engaging products for kids. They are equally passionate about making sure kids are safe in and around the water and believe learning to swim is an important life skill. Swimways has been teaching kids to swim for over 40 years — longer than anyone else (except parents, of course!). In January 2007, Swimways began donating a portion of wholesale sales of the Swim Steps™ product line to Operation Smile. To date, the program has provided facial reconstructive surgeries to more than 4,500 kids around the world. For more information about Swimways, visit www.Swimways.com.
With Six Years of Partnership and Counting, Swimways Continues Long Time Support of Operation Smile
Virginia Beach, Va. (May 9, 2013) – Swimways Corp., a leading outdoor recreational products manufacturer celebrated raising more than $900,000 for charity organization Operation Smile today. Over the last six years, Swimways has created nearly 5,000 smiles around the world.
Packaging for the SwimWays® Swim Steps product line has highlighted Swimways support for Operation Smile since 2007. Swim Steps packaging also includes a donation brochure insert featuring a special message from Swimways Corp. President David Arias, inviting consumers to make direct contributions to Operation Smile. Swim Steps is a three step program consisting of a line of floats and swim training gear for children. Swim Step 1 supports young children as they are introduced to the water, Swim Step 2 provides support as children explore the water and become more confident, and Swim Step 3’s graduated support gives parents a swim training system to empower their child in the water.
In addition to packaging and print support, Swimways also supports the charity online, with direct links from Swimways.com to the Operation Smile website, and via social media. In April 2012, Swimways launched a social media campaign with a Facebook challenge to benefit the charity, donating $2 for each new “like” resulting in 11,000 new Operation Smile Facebook fans and a 171% increase in Facebook monthly revenue, funding 91 surgeries.
“We’re very proud of our partnership with Operation Smile,” said David Arias, president of Swimways Corp. “As a manufacturer of children’s products, and parents ourselves, we believe that every child should have the ability to smile. We’re honored to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many children around the world.”
Operation Smile was founded by Dr. William P Magee Jr., a plastic surgeon, and his wife Kathleen, a registered nurse in 1982. At a recent Swimways Corp. meeting Dr. Magee gave thanks to the employees for their efforts. “If it wasn’t for people like you all doing what you do every day, Operation Smile would not be able to do what it does,” Dr. Magee said. “Swimways is part of our team, and that team takes care of kids all over the world.”
This year Operation Smile launched its 30th Anniversary celebration with the change forever™ campaign, featuring a year-long series of events in the United States and globally. World-renowned athlete Tony Hawk stars in an interactive film which can be viewed at www.wecanchangeforever.com. In the film, viewers can upload their smile through Facebook and watch as their smile travels around the world to help a child suffering from a facial deformity such as cleft lip and cleft palate. They are also asked to take a pledge to help create greater awareness for children suffering from facial deformities.
SwimWays Swim Steps, a product line created for swim development, includes the Swim Sweater™, Sea Squirts Swim Assist Vest™, and the #1 selling Baby Spring Float™. SwimWays Swim Steps products are available nationwide at Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, Leslies’ Pool Supplies, and other retailers.
Contact: Jasmine Van Schaick, Swimways Corp. | email@example.com | 757.460.1156
About Swimways Corp.
Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Swimways Corp is a privately owned leisure and recreational water products manufacturer whose mission is making free time more fun through innovation. It is a company rich in traditional values and respected for the quality and integrity of its products and services. With distribution in more than 50,000 storefronts, it markets three unique brands: SwimWays®, Kelsyus® and COOP®. With offices in Hong Kong and the United States, the company’s diverse staff is passionate about developing fun and engaging products for kids.
About Operation Smile
Operation Smile, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, is an international children’s medical charity with a presence in more than 60 countries, whose network of more than 5,000 medical volunteers from over 80 countries is dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children. Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile has provided more than 3.5 million healthcare evaluations and conducted over 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities, as well as patients suffering from burns. To build long-term self-sufficiency in developing countries, Operation Smile trains doctors and local medical professionals in its partner countries so they are empowered to treat their own local communities, donates medical equipment and supplies, and provides year-round medical treatment through its worldwide Comprehensive Care Centers.
As summer approaches, neighbors are getting their backyard pools and spas in shape for another season of fun. It can be a lot of work and just like every year, I get lots of questions from new parents asking me about water safety. Let’s start off this swim season right with a review of what it means to be safe around the water with your kids. Here are some of the most common questions I get along with my answers:
1. What are the number one things to keep in mind when it comes to swim safety for kids?
This first one is easy: supervision! Kids should never be in a pool, spa, lake, or any body of water without constant adult supervision; not just there with them, but focused on the children exclusively. Those who are watching the water cannot be engaged in anything else. Parents have to understand what drowning looks like and never assume that they will hear trouble; they will have to watch for it.
Many organizations, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, have developed Water Watcher cards for the responsible adult to wear at pool parties and other swimming activities so other adults know that they are busy and not to be distracted. I think they are a great idea.
Make a habit out of always assigning a responsible young adult or adult as a full time water watcher and remember that some children will need closer supervision than others.
2. How should a parent’s attitude about swim safety change as a child grows older? Are there different rules for different age groups?
Attitudes can shift as a child’s abilities grow, but ability isn’t always linked to age. There aren’t different rules concerning safety for different ages. Non-swimming children of any age should be closely supervised when in the water. “Touch-supervision” is a term used to describe the care needed for those with limited swimming ability. An adult should be within arm’s reach at all times when a child who is learning to swim is in the water.
As a child’s ability and confidence in the water grows, so can your distance from them while watching them swim and play. But there will never be a time when you should feel so confident that you walk away and leave them unsupervised.
3. If a child can’t swim, can a parent still bring him or her to the pool with friends or siblings? How can we keep that child safe?
The water can be a fun place for everyone. Parents whose children haven’t yet learned to swim shouldn’t be afraid to take them to well maintained and supervised pools. New swimmers can stay in the shallow end within touch supervision of an adult or even venture into deeper water using approved flotation devices like the SwimWays Sea Squirts Life Jacket. They are my absolute favorite product on the market for less-than-confident swimmers.
Of course, the answers to keeping non-swimmers kids safe in the water is as varied as kids themselves. Maybe they only feel comfortable being in the water with Mom or Dad right there with them. If so – get in there with them and work with them to feel comfortable. There are other products in the Swim Steps line that can help you both feel comfortable as you introduce them to the water. Remember that every minute in the water shouldn’t be a swim lesson, but they can learn when just having fun.
Whether your child is a confident swimmer or a beginner – being close by, watching, and participating with them as they are in the water is the ultimate safety net.
4. What are some of the best ways to teach our kids about swim safety without scaring them or making them afraid to swim?
This is another question I get a lot and for years it used to be difficult to answer. Any parent with more than one child knows how different their personalities can be and how you talk to them about anything can be specific to the child. But for the past year and a half, I’ve been privileged to work with an organization that has developed what I think is the best way to get the message of water safety across to young children.
My good friend, Blake Collingsworth, wrote a children’s book entitled Josh the Baby Otter. The book helps parents provide some context for small children when discussing water safety and helps convey three very simple yet powerful messages for kids: To never go near water without an adult; to first learn to float and/or swim before going in water; and to always swim with a buddy.
I’ve personally watched as children learned these basic safety rules about the water and then looked forward to becoming just like Josh and “learn to float!”
SwimWays is a proud supporter of the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation because they believe, as I do, that teaching children early about water safety is a necessary first step in the learn-to-swim process.
5. If you see a child who looks like they are in trouble in the water, what steps should you take to help them?
Without trying to condense years of rescue training into a single paragraph, I’ll start of by saying that it depends, though you should never let anything get in the way of common sense. Understand that a child in trouble in the water is having trouble maintaining their airway. Getting them out of the water is always the first step. If you are within arm’s reach (like you should be in many cases) then simply reaching over and picking them up has got step one out of the way.
You’ll often hear a rule that says “reach then throw, don’t go” that advocates reaching from the pool edge with your body or a pole, and if that doesn’t work to throw flotation or a line and pull the child to safety. The “Don’t go” part is a warning that worries about untrained rescuers needing rescue themselves.
That can be a problem, but again don’t forget common sense. If you’re not a trained lifeguard, and you see a toddler struggling in three feet of water just out of your reach, don’t waste any time trying to throw a life ring at the two year old; get in there and pick them up!
It’s a new season for fun in the water and learning to swim, but first things first; stay safe out there.
We’ve got some great things planned for this summer and we’ll be getting advice from some of my friends in the swim training industry and from parents like yourself over the coming weeks and months, so check back often. And keep those questions coming!
Mario Vittone is a nationally recognized expert on water safety. His writing on aquatic risk and drowning prevention has appeared in magazines, websites, and newspapers around the world. Mario is a former Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer and instructor and has lectured on boating and water safety across the United States. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation. Mario’s Blog | Facebook Page