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Governor Hochul Launches “Get Offline, Get Outside” Campaign and Announces Free Pool Access at State Parks This Summer


Helping Kids Learn to Swim

Recognizing that drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and that climate change will increase extreme heat events, NY SWIMS will build out municipal swimming facilities in high-need areas, connect New Yorkers to the State’s rivers and lakes, deploy pools in urban environments, and invest in State parks and pools. It will also promote initiatives to help more New Yorkers swim safely by addressing the statewide lifeguard shortage, increasing swimming instruction, and increasing amenities at pools and beaches.

Governor Hochul announced a $1.5 million Connect Kids to Swimming Instruction Transportation Grant program. Administered by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), the Connect Kids to Swimming Instruction Transportation Grant Program will connect New York school age children (pre-K through grade 12) with swimming instruction by reimbursing transportation costs (including parking and vehicle use fees) incurred by eligible entities for travel to facilities in New York State that are operated by State, municipal, and not-for-profit organizations and offer swim instruction for a nationally recognized learn-to-swim curriculum such as the American Red Cross, YMCA, or Starfish Aquatics.

The program allows for grant recipients to be reimbursed up to $45,000 per fiscal year for eligible transportation expenses and there is no matching share required. Applications will be received on a rolling basis. Grant details and guidelines are available on the State Parks website.

Governor Hochul has also directed SUNY to collaborate with schools, youth and community-based organizations and municipalities to increase learn to swim opportunities across every region of the State. Additionally, New York will incentivize SUNY students who are skilled swimmers to become lifeguards by covering the cost of a lifeguard certification exam, and by giving college credit for lifeguard training courses.

Building Out Municipal Pools in High-Need Areas

Governor Hochul recently announced that up to $90 million from the new $150 million NY SWIMS capital grant program is now available. Included in the FY 2025 Enacted Budget and the 2024 State of the State, the program offers grants between $50,000 and $10 million to acquire, design, construct or reconstruct facilities, provide major renovations, improvements, and modernization or rehabilitation of swimming facilities and natural swimming areas. The Request for Applications for the first round of funding was posted on May 1 at www.dasny.org and www.parks.ny.gov.

The first application period for the NY SWIMS capital grant opened on June 13, 2024, and applications must be submitted by July 12, 2024. Awards are expected to be announced no earlier than August 28, 2024. Applications will be evaluated on characteristics of projects’ need, impact, and viability.

Completing Renovation at Riverbank State Park

Governor Hochul also announced completion of the renovation of aquatic locker rooms at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park. The project wraps up a $19 million investment in renewing both the athletic and aquatic locker rooms, both heavily-used facilities that haven’t been updated since the park’s original construction three decades ago. Improvements included a refreshed reception area, creature comforts such as a ‘swimsuit spinner’ to help dry wet clothes, accessibility upgrades and new efficient lighting.

Making SUNY Pools Community Anchors

Governor Hochul secured nearly $2 million in the FY 2025 Budget for SUNY campuses to offer lifeguard certification courses and expand access to learn-to-swim classes for youth. SUNY will collaborate with schools, youth and community-based organizations and municipalities to increase learn to swim opportunities across every region of the State. In addition, New York will incentivize SUNY students who are skilled swimmers to become lifeguards by covering the cost of a lifeguard certification exam, and by giving college credit for lifeguard training courses. Any SUNY campus with an operational swimming pool will be eligible for funding. Applications are currently available and awards will be made in the coming weeks.



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