It’s hard to imagine swimming when temperatures are not yet enticing enough to put on a bathing suit. But, summer will be here soon, and with water to our north and south on Long Island, this is the perfect time to provide education on water safety. Swim Strong Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in New York by Shawn Slevin, has a mission to reduce unintended death due to drowning and water-based accidents. They are entering their 15th year having met many milestones including teaching more than 10,000 people how to swim and giving more than $1 Million in free swim lessons to families in need. They have also initiated legislation to mandate the training of water safety in NY schools. To connect with students, they created a water safety educational program that focuses on the potential dangers for different bodies of water as well as providing techniques to make informed decisions about swimming. Their program, “Know Before You Go™” was recognized by the USA Swimming Foundation. Topics addressed in the training include:

  • Definition of Drowning/ Drowning Statistics
  • General Water Safety tips
  • Water Safety at Home
  • Understand the nature and environment of these different bodies of water: Pools, Lakes, Ponds, Rivers and Oceans
  • Dangers of RIP currents…what causes them, how to identify them, and how to navigate safely out of them
  • Safety at Water Parks and while boating
  • Seasonal dangers of Tropical Storms, Hurricanes, Ice and Flooding

Statistics on water-related incidents are staggering. Globally, a person dies due to drowning every 70 seconds, and for every death, 5 more people suffer life-changing brain and spinal cord injuries due to water-based accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 95% of these tragedies were preventable.

“KNOW BEFORE YOU GO™, The Curriculum” is the educational package for schools which includes:

  • curriculum for PreK-2 including slide shows and activities;
  • curriculum for G3-7 including slide shows, activities and homework assignments;
  • curriculum for G8-12+ including slide shows, activities and homework assignments;
  • pre/post tests for G3-12; and
  • a Teacher’s Guide for the educators, which provides more resources per topic and age-appropriate STEM based exercises.

The curriculum is aligned with the National Health Education Standards established by the CDC. These standards are also endorsed by the Society of Health & Physical education (SHAPE). Some lessons within the curriculum can also meet select science and ELA standards. So, an English teacher could conceivably use the lessons as a non-fiction writing exercise. The curriculum is designed with schools in mind, and the curriculum program can be used for both in-person and remote learning, K-12. Lessons and activities can be adapted for students with special needs.

The lessons include teacher and student-friendly materials created in various Google applications that can be delivered through Google Classroom or similar Learning Management Systems. Student activities are electronically interactive, so there is no need for printing, scanning or attaching documents to emails. Lessons are flexible. They can be delivered as one stand-alone unit or done over a period of weeks or months. They are adaptable to most subjects, such as Health Education, Physical Education, Science, Advisory/Homeroom, or even in an after-school setting.

The program offers everything you need to deliver a water safety education curriculum in one complete package. Fees are based on $15 per student.

Shawn M. Slevin


Swim Strong Foundation

This article was also featured in our newsletter Lesson Plan Vol. 24