Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

August 20, 2015

Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 |

New York State Parks Announces Partnership with State Department of Health to Expand Learn-to-Swim Programs in 2016

Free Instructional Programs will be offered at State Parks in the Mohawk Valley and Further Expand Statewide

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) Commissioner Rose Harvey and New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker announced an expanded partnership to bring free Learn-to-Swim programs to every state park in the Mohawk Valley and to additional parks statewide next summer. The expansion of the program is expected to at least double the number of state parks offering the free instructional class in 2016.

"We are thrilled that next year, with the enhanced support of the Department of Health, we will significantly expand the Learn-to-Swim program here in the Mohawk Valley and throughout the state," said Commissioner Harvey.

"Swimming is a lifelong skill with numerous benefits, including health and fitness," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "By expanding the Learn-to-Swim program more children in New York will enjoy this activity while acquiring the aquatic skills they need to be safe when they're in the water."

The New York State Department of Health will provide $80,000 over the next two years to support the program's expansion. The following state parks in the Mohawk Valley will offer Learn-to-Swim programs in 2016:

  • Delta Lake State Park, Oneida County
  • Gilbert Lake State Park, Otsego County
  • Glimmerglass State Park, Otsego County
  • Mine Kill State Park, Schoharie County
  • Verona Beach State Park, Oneida County

More information on locations, schedules and how to sign up will be available next spring at

The New York State Parks free Learn-to-Swim program is in its third season. In 2015, approximately 1,000 children participated in the program at 15 state parks with swim lessons and water safety presentations. This expansion will increase the number to at least 30 state parks that will offer the free "Learn-to-Swim" classes in 2016.

The Learn-to-Swim program is also supported by the National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Northeast Spa & Pool Association Foundation which in 2015 donated a total of $15,000 to offset staff and program costs to enable State Parks to offer the free swim classes. The American Red Cross provides training to State Park lifeguards to obtain Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification. This support has allowed for the certification of approximately 22 additional Water Safety Instructors.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 62 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.