WATCH: San Diego Unified Students Celebrate New Swimming Skills with USA Swim Team

Posted: Wednesday, June 5th 2019

Students from Hage Elementary took part in San Diego Unified School District’s Bridge to the Beach program’s graduation celebration at Mission Beach on Monday.  Nearly 200 Students kicked off their summer with a trip to the beach where they put their new swimming skills into action.
The event was part of San Diego Park and Recreation’s Drowning Prevention Program partnership with San Diego Unified. The partnership offers 10 free swimming lessons a year for the students, beginning in the 3rd grade. By the 5th grade the students are confident in the water and participate in the Bridge to the Beach graduation celebration, where they surf, boogie board, kayak, and paddle board.

The free swim lesson program, in operation for 17 years, has had a life-changing impact on many of the students. Usually 10-20% of the students who participate in the program had never been to the beach prior to joining the program. After completing the Bridge to the Beach program, 3 or 4 will be in the Junior Lifeguard summer program and 30% will go on to play water polo or swim in high school.

This year the USA Swim team joined the students at the beach, where they celebrated the importance of swim lessons with Olympic Gold Medalist, Ryan Murphy and Ryan Gaines. This event is possible every year thanks to the district’s partnership with the City of San Diego, PE resource teacher Lynn Barnes-Wallace, and the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego, which donates $50,000 a year to the district to teach students to swim.

Since the program began, over 2,000 students have been taught this life-saving skill through the physical education program at Hage Elementary, as well as 9 nine other schools throughout the district.

Check out the video clip, where Hage student David Rodriguez, who learned how to swim through the district's Bridge to the Beach program, shares how he was able to save the life of a friend thanks to his newly acquired swimming skills.

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