Water safety a priority as getswimming.ca launches

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OTTAWA – Four national organizations are partnering to launch Getswimming.ca, the online home of the first ever Canada-wide initiative to teach every Canadian child to swim.

Swimming Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, Lifesaving Society Canada and the Canadian Medical Association have joined forces to form Canada’s Swim Team. Canadians young and old who enjoy the many benefits of swimming can join the team at getswimming.ca.

“Swimming Canada is proud to be launching Getswimming.ca with these three great organizations,” said Chris Wilson, marketing and events director for Swimming Canada. “Of course every child that learns to swim is a potential recruit, but much more importantly they become more safe around water, more fit and more confident. We all benefit from a goal of teaching every Canadian child to swim.”

Any Canadian who loves to swim or wants to learn can join and help create the World’s Largest Swim Team. It’s free to join and members will receive a regular newsletter and have access to prizes, contests and event tickets.

Canada’s Swim Team encourages every Canadian to learn to swim. The goal is for every child in Canada to be able to swim 25 metres non-stop before completing elementary school. Each year, Canadian children drown from not knowing how to swim or not being sufficiently supervised. The vast majority of incidents of drowning or near drowning are preventable.

“Basic swimming ability is a fundamental requirement in any meaningful attempt to eliminate drowning in Canada,” said Ed Bean, communications director for the Lifesaving Society. “Learning to swim when you’re young gives you a lifesaving skill for life.”

“The Canadian Red Cross is thrilled to be involved with the launch of Swimming Canada’s Getswimming.ca initiative,” said Shelley Dalke, manager, national swimming and water safety programs for the Canadian Red Cross. “Drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children younger than 10, but recent Canadian Red Cross research shows only 3 per cent of children who drowned in Canada were identified as strong swimmers. Swimming lessons save lives, and are particularly important in cases where a child enters the water unexpectedly, which is often the case in child drownings.”

Canada is also facing an epidemic of childhood obesity. Swimming is one of the best overall exercises for cardiovascular health, flexibility and endurance. Canada’s Swim Team encourages Canadians to make swimming part of an active, healthy lifestyle.

“Canada is a nation of lakes, rivers and three seashores. Ensuring that all Canadian children can swim is critical for safety and to prevent injury and death by drowning,” said Dr. Anna Reid, president of the Canadian Medical Association. “Swimming also happens to be a tremendous way to get exercise. Initiatives such as getswimming.ca can also help reverse the rising obesity rates in our children. ”

Several announcements will be made throughout the site’s official launch day Thursday, including a nationwide contest sponsored by IHG to send four people on a vacation anywhere in Canada or the continental U.S.

Canada’s Swim Team will also be unveiling support from a variety of Honourary Team Captains who will be promoting the initiative on Twitter throughout the day.

Partners also include the Chicken Farmers of Canada. As the official protein of swimming in Canada, the Chicken Farmers of Canada are sponsoring a Team Kitchen page on the site to promote healthy eating alongside active living.

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