April 26, 2017 – Legendary OxiClean pitchman Anthony Sullivan has found a big cause to support: teaching adults lifesaving skills through U.S. Masters Swimming and its Swimming Saves Lives Foundation’s adult learn-to-swim initiative.
More than one-third of adults in the United States can’t swim the length of a pool and about 10 people in the country, many of them adults, drown every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“And, in my opinion, that’s 10 people too many,” Sullivan says in a recent public service announcement released by USMS.
The Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, the charitable arm of U.S. Masters Swimming, aims to reduce the adult drowning rate through outreach, education, and financial support. The organization’s national April is Adult Learn-to-Swim Month campaign raises awareness about adult drowning, and offers solutions by encouraging nonswimmers to take lessons from USMS-certified adult learn-to-swim instructors. Additionally, SSLF provides grants to programs that offer low- or no-cost swim lessons to adults.
The foundation has awarded nearly $335,000 in grants to programs across the country since 2014, including $88,000 in 2017 to 38 programs. The USMS Adult Learn-to-Swim Instructor Certification Program was launched in 2015 and will visit 24 cities this year.
Many of the grant programs are run through USMS’s 1,500-plus swim clubs, and club-member volunteers assist USMS-certified instructors in offering the lessons. Programs are often scheduled in April before many pools, beaches, and lakes get busy during warm-weather months.
The adult learn-to-swim initiative is important to Sullivan, who almost lost one of his friends to a drowning off the coast of New Jersey. The friend, Sullivan said during a recent radio interview, “actually started to see stars and thought he was going” until a surfer saved him.
Sullivan received certification from USMS as an adult learn-to-swim instructor and helps people learn how to participate in what he calls the “greatest exercise of them all: swimming.” He began swimming around the age of 6 in England and began competing in national-level USMS meets in 2015, balancing his career pitching products such as Arm & Hammer, Nutrisystem, and OxiClean with the sport he loves.
“Adults can learn to swim at any time of the year,” says Sullivan. “That’s because USMS trains adult learn-to-swim instructors in methods that work best for adult learners. I think everyone deserves to know how to swim.”
Anyone interested in finding or offering adult learn-to-swim lessons is encouraged to visit usms.org/learntoswim.