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San Antonio Sports initiative connects children to swim lessons

Viva Swim For Life presented by University Health System in conjunction with USA Swimming

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Sports on Wednesday launched a communitywide initiative to connect kids to swim lessons.

The program is called Viva Swim For Life and is presented by University Health System in conjunction with USA Swimming.

Community leaders made the announcement at Northside Swim Center Stadium.

"We have a number of large swim meets coming here this summer to create awareness of swimming, not only to save their own (lives); they could save the life of another person," said San Antonio Sports CEO Russ Bookbinder.

Laura Duranti said she already is a strong believer in teaching kids to swim. She enrolled her 5-year-old daughter in swimming lessons to help keep her safe and give herself peace of mind.

"If she's in a situation where she's at a friend's house and there's a pool and she falls in, she can save herself, get to the side. If we go boating or tubing in the Guadalupe, she is safe," said Duranti.

Since the event fell on April 1, organizers are called it "April Pools Day." 

However, they know swim readiness isn't a joke, since the statistics on drowning are serious. According to Viva Swim, approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S.

More than 1 in 5 drowning victims are children younger than 14. Roughly 70 percent of black, 60 percent of Hispanic, and 40 percent of white children cannot swim.

Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children ages 1-4.

But parents also need to play an active role to keep kids safe.

"We can learn CPR as parents and most importantly to remember, to watch our kids while they're around pools because that's the No. 1 place children die from drowning," said Dr. Lillian Liao, a pediatric trauma surgeon at University Hospital.

Through the Viva Swim program, San Antonio will host four major swimming events in 2015, including the Phillips 66 National Championships and the Speedo Jr. National Championships.

Free swim lessons will also be offered at a number of area swimming pools.

More information is available here.