Originally Published on KaiserPermanente.org
Kaiser Permanente partners with the city of Los Angeles to provide free swimming lessons to youth and adults in low-income communities.
School is out, and summer has arrived. Families everywhere are preparing for summer fun, and with that comes plans to head to the water. Whether it’s the beach, a lake, or the pool, swimming safety is crucial, and knowing how to swim can be not only life-saving but life-changing.
2019 marks the 14th consecutive year that Kaiser Permanente, in collaboration with the city of Los Angeles, has offered the popular Operation Splash program. It provides free swimming lessons to low-income communities, and scholarships for junior lifeguard training in Los Angeles. The program promotes water safety, physical activity and healthy living, and supports Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s SwimLA initiative, which closely models Operation Splash in offering affordable swim lessons citywide.
“It’s not just about Kaiser Permanente Southern California or the city of Los Angeles, it’s about us as moms, dads, grannies, aunts, uncles, and neighbors coming together to ensure water safety and drowning prevention in our communities,” said Patti Harvey, senior vice president, Quality, Regulatory, and Clinical Operation Support, Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “My heart and soul are committed to Operation Splash.”
Through a 2-year $408,000 grant to the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Aquatics Division, Kaiser Permanente aims to prevent drownings, increase water safety, and expand the possibilities for youth who adopt swimming as a life skill.
Nearly 200 Operation Splash and SwimLA enthusiasts helped celebrate the 2019 launch by tossing colorful beach balls, receiving swimming instruction, and learning water polo moves at the recently renovated South Park Pool in South L.A. “Mer-Models” from the Swim Brayv Foundation also attended to help promote water safety.
Alexandra Gomez shared her inspiring story about the ways Operation Splash changed her life. She learned to swim through the program, joined her high school water polo team, and is now a city lifeguard in South L.A.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the next Janet Evans is out there right now learning how to swim and I’m glad that our city is helping develop that,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Janet Evans, a 4-time gold medalist and world record-holding competition swimmer, also addressed the crowd.
Los Angeles will host the Olympic Games in 2028, and the hope is through Operation Splash and SwimLA, a child’s horizons might expand from learning to swim, to lifeguarding, to possibly competing in the Games.
For the 2019 and 2020 summer seasons, Kaiser Permanente’s grant will underwrite swim lessons for about 12,000 children and adults, provide junior lifeguard scholarships for 1,560 youth, and increase participation in the Rethink Your Drink Campaign, which raises awareness about the unhealthy impacts of sugary beverages and the benefits of drinking water.
Please visit the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks’ website at www/laparks.org, or call 323-906-7953 for information about participating pools in the area.
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