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Essential Services Image

We are pleased to announce that drowning prevention classes, including swim lessons have been deemed essential by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

“Drowning prevention classes, including swim lessons with certified instructors, are permitted in indoor and outdoor swimming pools in all tiers, as they are deemed essential.” [1]

This designation will help greatly in the continued mission to prevent drownings in the state of California. Learning to swim, as part of a multilayer drowning prevention plan, is a critical tool as demonstrated by a study conducted in 2009 showing formal swim lessons between the ages of 1 and 4 can help reduce the risk of drowning by 88%.[2]

Each year in California literally hundreds of children suffer drowning incidents, and for every fatal drowning there are five other drowning incidents ending in resuscitation of the drowning victim that then results in brain injury due to hypoxia.

We understand and accept the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic requires the state and local health departments to be vigilant for all of us, to flatten the curve and prevent the continuation of COVID’s hold on the landscape. Leaders and partners in the drowning prevention community, including the California Coalition for Children’s Safety and Health (CCCSH) leadership agree that drowning prevention is just as important and can be done safely, even during this pandemic. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for the one to four-year-old population, and one of the leading causes of unintentional death for the teen and youth population.[3]

As we work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we must also continue to carry out public health activities that prevent children from dying or being permanently harmed by preventable unintentional injuries such as drowning. We cannot and should not ignore the importance of drowning prevention as an essential public health need and we applaud leadership at the CADPH for recognizing this and deeming drowning prevention, including swim lessons as essential.

Our plan is to work with our volunteers and experts to continue to educate leadership in other states to follow suit, make drowning prevention, including learning to swim, essential in every state in the country.

USSSA has developed tools and resources to make learning to swim as safe as possible during COVID-19, including:

  • Creation of a uniform manual, USSSA Action Plan 2.1, based on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) protocols to provide guidance for swim schools to open and continue to provide critical water safety and drowning prevention for children while maintaining everyone’s health and safety.
  • Surveys of USSSA member swim schools operating across the country, with our most recent survey showing nearly 44,600 students and staff participating in swim lessons for an average of three months with no COVID-19 transmissions to students in the facility, thus demonstrating that the numerous health and safety measures put in place by swim schools are working.
  • Uncovering important information from industry experts on the ways ventilation for indoor pools are far superior at minimizing virus transmission than most indoor spaces.



[2] Association Between Swimming Lessons and Drowning in Childhood, A Case-Control Study: Ruth Brenner, et al., 2009