Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

July 19, 2018

Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
518-486-1868 |

New York State Parks Announces Free Learn-To-Swim Program is Open to 3,000 Children This Summer

Program is Open for Enrollment and Information is Available Here

The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today announced the annual free Learn-to-Swim program is expected to reach approximately 3,000 children this summer at 27 State Parks across New York. Now in its sixth year, the swimming instruction program is led by state park lifeguards.

New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "The New York State park system is an exceptional place for children to build mind and muscle and learn new skills. Through the support of Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 initiative and our partners in the Learn-to-Swim program, we are revitalizing state park system and expanding the opportunities for both children and adults to make strong connections with the great outdoors and healthy, active living."

The 2018 Learn-to-Swim season includes hundreds of individual classes taught for all ages and levels, varying from swim lessons to water safety presentations at 27 locations across the state.

Enrollment for the Learn-to-Swim program remains open at many participating New York State Parks. Programs are free and pre-registration is required. For more information on schedules and how to sign up, visit the Learn-to-Swim page. Space is limited and programs fill up quickly. Each swim program is 40 - 45 minutes in duration and participants who complete the lessons will receive a Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Achievement Booklet and a State Parks Learn-to-Swim kit that includes a knapsack, tee-shirt and water bottle.

The Learn-to-Swim program is offered through a partnership among the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; New York State Department of Health; the American Red Cross; the National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Master Pools Guild; and the Northeast Spa and Pool Association Foundation.

The National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Master Pools Guild, and the Northeast Spa & Pool Association Foundation annually donate $15,000 to offset staff and program costs to enable State Parks to offer the free swim classes. The American Red Cross provides free training to State Park lifeguards to obtain Water Safety Instructor certification, allowing them to teach swimming classes. The free Learn-to-Swim program also builds on the instruction already offered at state park facilities as part of programs arranged by summer camps, municipalities and other partner organizations.

The Learn-to-Swim program expands the governor's commitment to serving more youth at State Parks. In 2016, the Governor announced the Connect Kids to Parks program, which provides free day-use park entry to fourth-grade students and their families, and in 2017 funding for the program doubled to $1 million. During the last school year, the program served over 77,000 students.

"Drowning prevention has been part of the American Red Cross mission since 1914. For more than a century, the Red Cross has partnered with organizations like New York State Parks to teach millions the life skills of swimming and water safety," said Colleen McCabe, Executive Director, Southern Tier Chapter of the American Red Cross. "We are proud to be part of this successful collaboration through our Aquatics Centennial Campaign to help make so many New Yorkers water competent and water smart."

"The NESPA Foundation is proud to be a long-time supporter of NYS's Learn to Swim Program," said NESPA Foundation President, John Lochren. "The Learn to Swim Program fits perfectly with our Foundation's mission by providing children and their families with crucial water safety information while empowering them with must-have swimming skills. By working together, we are helping to create the next generation of swimmers who will use recreational swimming as an outlet for both fun and exercise for decades to come."

"The National Swimming Pool Foundation® is proud to have supported the New York Park System's "Learn-to-Swim" program since its inception in 2013," said Thomas Lachocki, Ph. D. and CEO of NSPF®. "As a result of strong partnerships and individual effort, thousands of children can now enjoy the wonders of water, and the benefits of aquatic fitness, throughout their lifetime."

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 71 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect with us on Facebook, or follow on Instagram and Twitter.