The American Red Cross’s Centennial Project gives kids and adults the opportunity for quality swimming instruction at a discounted rate. (Photo courtesy American Red Cross)

Although beach days are out of the question during Wisconsin winters, hotel pool parties and indoor waterparks keep kids busy during the lull. Whether it’s splashing in the wading pool or backflips off the diving board, a fun day at the pool can quickly turn into a nightmare.

A basic knowledge in swimming can prevent a lot of tragic water-related accidents. For parents and adults, the choice between swimming lessons and paying the bills should never be a choice they have to make.

The MPS Recreation Aquatics program has joined the American Red Cross Aquatics Centennial Campaign. This national multi-year campaign has aimed to reduce drownings and increase access to water safety skills.

“Milwaukee Recreation is proud to be a part of the Centennial Campaign. The partnership will allow the Milwaukee community access to learn-to-swim programs at locations that have historically struggled with both poverty and drowning rates,” said Nicole Jacobson, Aquatics Supervisor with Milwaukee Recreation.

The Centennial Campaign will bring $5 swim lessons to resident and non-resident children and adults at four select Milwaukee Recreation school pools in the city:

• James Madison Academic Campus (8135 W. Florist Ave.)
• North Division High School (1011 W. Center St.)
• Milwaukee High School of the Arts (2300 W. Highland Ave.)
• Vincent High School (7501 W. Granville Road)

Who said swimming class wasn’t fun? It’s all smiles during a Centennial Project class. (Photo courtesy American Red Cross)

Mark Thomas, Regional CEO and Southeast Wisconsin Chapter Executive, American Red Cross, said the partnership was meant to create an ecosystem of water safety in communities where there were higher numbers of drownings or drowning rates higher than the national average.

“To families, this means having access to affordable life-saving swim lessons and water safety training in and near their communities,” Thomas said.

The Red Cross Centennial campaign was created in 2014 in recognition of 100 years of Red Cross swimming safety education. Due to the positive response, the campaign has expanded beyond the initial 50 programs. Through the end of 2018, the campaign has spanned across 23 states, taught 81,288 sets of swim lessons and coached 12,388 parents and caregivers on lifesaving water-safety knowledge and skills.

“We are excited to offer affordable, quality swim lessons, water safety education and lifeguard training to more students than we ever have before,” Jacobson said.

Registration begins Tuesday, Dec. 10 and is available through the Milwaukee Recreation website and by-mail program, and lessons start in January.