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To prevent drowning, Middlesex Co. offers free swimming lessons to children

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​The aim of the pilot initiative is to teach children basic swimming skills and educate them about water safety.

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MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ — Middlesex County is launching a new program that will offer free swim lessons to every second-grader in the county to improve safety during summer water activities. The announcement was made at a press conference Wednesday.

This comes after a 4-year-old boy in North Brunswick tragically drowned in a backyard pool on Saturday night, May 25. Meanwhile, a 2-year-old boy is currently in critical condition at JFK Hospital after nearly drowning in a pool in South Plainfield earlier that same day.

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The pilot initiative, led by the health department, aims to prevent drowning accidents by teaching children basic swimming skills and educating them about water safety. Eleven municipal swimming pools and nonprofit organizations are participating in the program.

“Last year, my colleagues and I were horrified to hear about the many drowning accidents that were occurring not only in New Jersey, but across the United States. The number of drownings, especially among children, was higher than before the pandemic. We wondered if there was something we could do to improve access to basic swimming lessons,” said Middlesex District Superintendent Ronald G. Rios.

“The safety of our families is always our top priority, and as a parent and grandparent myself, I know that this program not only increases the safety of Middlesex County children, but also provides peace of mind for their parents.”

Through this program, the Middlesex County Office of Health Services will work with community partners to reimburse municipal pools and nonprofit organizations for the cost of providing these free classes. Any municipality can apply for grants to cover the fees charged to individuals or families for swim lessons.

County residents can call or email participating pools to receive free classes. These include:

  • RWJ Fitness and Wellness, 60 Cooke Avenue, Carteret, NJ, 07008 | 732-541-2333
  • Crystal Springs Family Water Park, 380 Dunhams Corner Road, East Brunswick, NJ, 08816 | [email protected]
  • Brookside Swim Club, 41 Washington Avenue, Milltown, NJ, 08850 | 732-828-9885
  • Milltown Boro Pool, John F. Kennedy Drive, 61 Violet Terrace, Milltown, NJ, 08850 | 732-828-8231
  • RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center New Brunswick, 100 Kirkpatrick Street #201, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901 | 732-873-1222
  • North Brunswick High School, 98 Raider Road, North Brunswick Township, NJ, 08902 | 732-247-0922 extension 475
  • Old Bridge YMCA, 1 Mannino Park Drive, Old Bridge, NJ, 08857 | 732-727-0704
  • Raritan Bay YMCA, 357 New Brunswick Avenue, Perth Amboy, NJ, 08861
  • YMCA at Piscataway Community Center, 520 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ, 07008 | 732-442-3632
  • South Amboy Branch YMCA, 200 John T O'Leary Boulevard, South Amboy, NJ, 08879 | 732-553-9622
  • Woodbridge Community Center, 600 Main Street, Woodbridge, NJ, 07095 | 732-596-4000

“By investing in water safety education, we are fostering a culture of safety and investing in the future of our community. This is consistent with our overall commitment to improving the safety and quality of life of our residents,” said County Commissioner Charles Kenny.

“I want to thank all the staff at the Middlesex County Office of Health Services who helped put this pilot program together, and I want to thank all the swim instructors, coaches and lifeguards for helping to build this community of caution in the water. Without you, this program would not be possible.”