A new program in Atlantic City, New Jersey hosted by the Brigantine Aquatic Center is providing the opportunity for 115 students from kindergarten to the eighth grade to attend swimming lessons at the MLK school swimming pool.
The program has been referred to as “Whelan’s Whales” is inspired by the late Senator Jim Whelan. Senator Whelan was a long-time school teacher in Atlantic City and was also a lifeguard and swim instructor before becoming the city’s mayor. Senator Whelan passed away last August at the age of 68.
Robin Taylor, the owner of the Aquatic Center, operates the program along with daughter Sari Carroll and says that the first matter of priority when teaching novice swimmers is to build up endurance. Taylor explains that it is important to build legs that are strong enough to save their lives in the water if ever in damage.
The World Health Organization says that drowning is the third leading cause of death globally for children ranging in ages from 5 to 14. Taylor says that it is a responsibility she readily accepts to teach children how to swim and make them knowledgeable about the realities of the water.
Officials in the state of New Jersey say that 188 deaths due to drowning occurred in the state between the years of 2014 and 2016. Nationally, one in five people that die from drowning are below the age of 14.
The pilot program began in May and will take place over a seven-week period that will end in late June.