Making a Splash: The Interactions of Public and Private Organizations in Swim Lesson Education

Author: Casey Wilson
Major: Political Science
Approved: Spring 2019
Status: In progress

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional drowning was the number one cause of death in children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of death in children ages 5-9 in 2017. Swimming is a life skill—one that can keep an accident from becoming a tragedy. Swim lessons benefit children because they develop this vital skill to keep them safe around water for the rest of their lives. However, though many public and private pools offer swim lessons, not every family can afford the financial or time commitment of enrolling in swim lessons. A simple fix could be including them in public schools, but states and school districts alike are unwilling to allocate funds for programs like this. Some districts have, however, partnered with private organizations such as YMCAs and public pools to offer swim lessons through the schools, and one school system in Washington state even offers vouchers to receive lessons at a nearby pool. Many policy areas include this intersection of public and private organizations, and I want to see how they interact in the specific area of swim lessons and schools as well as investigate the effectiveness of these programs in my research. This is a qualitative study, and I will conduct interviews with school administration, private organization officials, and others who are involved in programs offering swim lessons as well as analyze policies in place pertaining to swim lessons in schools. I hope to gain a better understanding of how these public and private institutions interact, and this research could help to implement programs including swim lessons in public school curricula in the future.