Statesman Swim Safe: A Life-Saver for Austin’s Newest Swimmers

Summertime in Central Texas means staying cool with water play and swimming, but in 2000 when the Austin American-Statesman discovered that children in some economically disadvantaged neighborhoods had not been offered swimming lessons in 10 years, they decided to do something about it. Building on the partnership the Statesman had established with the Austin Community Foundation to create the Season for Caring holiday giving program, Swim Safe was created. Swim Safe provides free swimming lessons at the East Austin YMCA and the City of Austin pools through a partnership between the Austin American-Statesman, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the YMCA of Austin.

Over the past 15 years Swim Safe has provided lessons to over 12,500 Central Texas children. In addition to teaching kids in grades kindergarten to third to swim, parents are also taught basic water safety. By providing back office support and managing all aspects of donations to Swim Safe, the Foundation has helped the Statesman provide over 750 swimming lessons this summer alone!

“Working with the Austin Community Foundation on Swim Safe and Season for Caring is invaluable for us,” remarked Jeff Simecek of the Statesman. “The Foundation’s solid reputation in our community also lends credibility to the Swim Safe and Season for Caring programs. Donors feel secure knowing that their gifts allow partnering agencies to do their good work in our community.”

During the summer, the Foundation receives online donations for Swim Safe as well as checks, often with personal message like “For two new swimmers, because I never got to learn to swim. Have fun!”

This year, the Swim Safe Fund has successfully raised over $37,000, surpassing their $25,000 annual goal, funding swimming lessons that change—and possibly save—the lives of Austin children.