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Swim instructor guides a young swimmer as they learn to kick
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City Offering Low-Cost Youth Swim Lessons and Water Safety Programs

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May is National Water Safety Month, an annual observance aimed at preventing drowning incidents and keeping individuals safe in and around water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 5 to 14 after motor vehicle crashes.

To combat these statistics, the City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department will provide low-cost water safety programs for youth residents this summer. The programs aim to teach children ages six months to 17 years a range of water safety practices, including basic swimming skills, ocean safety, and how to respond in an emergency.

“Water safety is a top priority for us, and we want to ensure kids in our community have the knowledge and skills to stay safe in and around water,” said Tony Sholl, Aquatics Supervisor for the City of Santa Barbara. “Knowing how to swim is a critical life skill that everyone should be able to learn, not just those who can afford it. Being able to safely and confidently enjoy our ocean opens up the world for kids.”

Swim Lessons
Low-cost group swim lessons will be offered for children six months to 12 years old. Lessons are separated by age and skill level and will be provided at Los Baños del Mar and Ortega Park Pool. Residents can register for a session of eight 30-minute lessons for $50, roughly $6 per lesson. Each participant will also receive a summer swim pass good for one adult and two children to enjoy recreation swim at Los Baños del Mar for free.

Swim lesson scholarships, funded by the PARC Foundation are available for eligible residents who cannot afford the fee. A successful fundraising effort has also made 135 swimsuits available for participants in need to ensure children can safely and comfortably learn to swim in the appropriate gear.

Junior Lifeguards
Children aged 7 to 17 who already know how to swim are encouraged to attend the multi-week Junior Lifeguards program to learn the skills needed to stay safe in the ocean and how to respond to an emergency. Participants are grouped by age for age-appropriate lessons and activities, including fun beach and water games, all led by professional beach lifeguards. Over the course of the program, participants gain skills in ocean safety, hazard identification, first aid, and surf lifesaving. 

Residents can register to attend the Junior Lifeguards program Monday through Friday for all eight weeks of summer for $550, approximately $14 per day, or a single 2-week session for $250. Scholarships are available for eligible families to attend the program for free. These scholarships are funded by donations to the PARC Foundation and distributed through SBPAL’s Campership Alliance program.

Lifeguard Certification Course
The Parks and Recreation Department will host a second reduced-cost lifeguard training course over Memorial Day weekend to increase the number of community members with critical lifesaving skills. While a typical course costs around $200, residents can participate in the multi-day training for $50. Participants who successfully complete the course will leave with American Red Cross certifications in lifeguarding, CPR, AED, and first aid and will be equipped to respond in a water emergency. A third reduced-cost course may be added later this year if community demand for the training remains high.

Registration is now open for all water safety programs and is available on a first-come-first-served basis at SBParksAndRec.org. Families interested in scholarship opportunities must create an online account before contacting Aquatics@SantaBarbaraCA.gov.

More information about swim lessons can be found at SantaBarbaraCA.gov/SwimLessons.

More about Junior Lifeguards can be found at SantaBarbaraCA.gov/Camps.

Groups and individuals interested in supporting water safety programming scholarships can donate to the PARC Foundation and indicate “Aquatics” as the designation for their donation.