Making a Splash and Learning Water Safety Skills

“It was too short!” rang out a chorus of kid voices as they were climbing out of the pool from their swim lesson. Over 50 kids and parents joined approximately 40,000 other participants around the globe in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson event to learn about water safety on June 21, 2018.

The local event, coordinated by Safe Kids Thurston County along with support from Molina Healthcare, held three free swim lessons at The Evergreen State College Pool. The life guards taught participants general water safety awareness, safe entry practices, submersion and breathing at the surface skills, and basic swimming locomotion skills. Life guards stressed key points for safe entry including:

  • Always ask permission, EVERY TIME the child wants to go in the water and ask an adult to “KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME”.
  • The importance of feet first entry in shallow waters to avoid spinal injuries.
  • The importance of wearing a life jacket any time inexperienced swimmers and young children are in water that is greater than waist-deep for that person.

“Any program that focuses on keeping kids safe in the water is what The Evergreen State College Rec Center wants to support,” said Ray Finn, Interim Assistant Director of the Recreation and College Recreation Center. “Many of the people come to our facility without water safety knowledge and this event works with youth to develop that knowledge early.”

The motto of the event, “Swimming Lessons Save Lives,” is extremely important considering formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1 to 4. Unfortunately, many kids do not receive formal swimming or water safety training.

Safe Kids Thurston ­­County is committed to preventing unintentional childhood injury, and the World’s Largest Swim Lesson was a natural fit to increase safety awareness. “Thurston County has seen a jump in the number of unintentional drowning in the last couple of years,” said Danielle King, Coordinator of Safe Kids Thurston County. “In fact, drowning has been the leading cause of unintentional death for children age 1 to 14 in Thurston County for over a decade. Between 2007 and 2016, 59 people died from drowning in Thurston County.” 

Safe Kids also works with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, City, County, and State Parks, and local police and fire departments to provide life jackets for families and individuals recreating on our open waters. The Life Jacket Loaner Cabinet Program has over 14 locations and is one of the largest Life Jacket Loaner Cabinet programs in the state. To check out the listing of all our Life Jacket Loaner Cabinets, click here:

“I love it!” said a 10-year old girl participating in the event. “Now I really want to sign-up for swim lessons because I don’t know how to swim.”

The event was held thanks to partners and volunteers from McLane Fire Department, Washington Boating, Molina Healthcare, Brian King Agency, the Evergreen Swim Club, and The Evergreen State College. To learn more about Safe Kids programs in Thurston County, visit