The swimming and diving team hosts “Water Safety Bash” for Champaign children

Illinois' head coach Sue Novitsky cheers on her swimmers during the meet against Illinois State at the ARC, on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. The Illini won 206-94.

Brenton Tse | Photo editor

Illinois' head coach Sue Novitsky cheers on her swimmers during the meet against Illinois State at the ARC, on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. The Illini won 206-94.

By Andrea Flores, Staff Writer

 

The Illinois swimming and diving team and Campus Recreation are hosting an event to help Champaign community children learn how to swim.

Water Safety Bash is an event developed by Sue Novitsky, head coach of Illinois swimming and diving, Corie Baldwin, graduate student and graduate aquatics assistant with Campus Recreation, and the Illinois swim team that aims to give back to the community by promoting water safety.

The event will take place at the Activities and Recreation Center’s indoor pool on Oct. 1 at 10:00 am.

Novitsky has wanted to do something like this for some time, she said in an email.

“I pitched the idea to Campus Recreation as a way to give back to the community, promote their learn to swim program, promote water safety and work together,” Novitsky said.

According to the USA Swimming website, 10 people drown every day, with one in every five being a child age 14 or younger.

If children take formal swimming lessons, the likelihood of drowning decreases by 88 percent, the website says.

The Make a Splash program, ran by the USA Swim Foundation, inspired the development of this event.

The Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club of Champaign is partnering to sponsor the event and the varsity swim team, along with Campus Recreation swim instructors, will work as volunteers. Up to 40 children ages nine to 17 are expected to attend.

The event will last one hour, and swim instructors will teach children the basics of being around water. They will cover front and back floating, how to help someone in need if no one else is around and teach the children how to properly use a life jacket.

“Learning how to swim is not available to everyone and the older you are, the less likely you are to learn how to swim,” Baldwin said. “Daily, people put themselves at risk by taking part of water activities without knowing how to swim.”

Novitsky was exposed to swim lessons at an early age, but she realizes that not everyone is as fortunate.

“Learning to swim is expensive so we wanted to provide a swimsuit so that is not an issue,” she said. “I would love to see a scholarship program be developed so that if there is interest in learning to swim that the cost of the lessons will be covered.”

Novitsky is grateful that Campus Recreation agreed to provide pool time, lifeguards and Learn-to-Swim instructors.

Donations were raised through a Go Fund Me set up for the event.

“For the swimsuits I have approached the Fighting Illini Swimming and Diving Alumni to donate suits or money to purchase suits for the kids,” Novitsky said. “So far, we have over $900 donated and have reached a number of new suits.”

As of now, Water Safety Bash is a one time event, but Novitsky and Baldwin hope to see this program develop further.

“We are going to evaluate after the event on how we want to proceed,” Baldwin said. “Our hope is that we will be able to offer this program a few times a semester.”

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