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Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.

From The New York Times:

Her Parents Thought Swimming Lessons Were a Good Idea

Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.…

Former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka

Good video about former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka


I’ve highlighted several initiatives in the past few months.  Time for an update.

1.  Petition to the United Nations:  Add Drowning to Millennium Development Goal #4, Reduce Childhood Mortality.

542 signatures from a truly staggering 52 countries signed the petition. (countries listed below)  I’ll be closing the petition on May 15 and submitting the signatures to the International Life Saving Federation to aid them in their diplomatic efforts with the U.N.  Can you help me get at least 1,000 signatures by May 15?  Please post the link on your Facebook page or share via e-mail - and ask people to pass it on!

The low number of signatures probably reflects our general reticence in the drowning prevention community to leverage social media.  There was a surge in countries where effort to publicize the petition via Facebook or e-mail took place, namely Portugal and the U.S.  I do think we deserve a high-five over the incredible breadth of countries that responded though - we heard from 6 of the 7 continents!

2.  International Water Safety Day.  Scheduled for May 15.  Anthony Erwin has signed on as spokesperson, Open Water Source and USA Swimming are among the organizations that are participating.  Check out the web-site to see what is going on and what you can do to participate.

3.  International Open Water Safety Guidelines.  In a very short time we had confirmation that the following organizations have adopted the guidelines (in order of confirmation):  Seattle Children’s Hospital, State of Washington (US), NDPA, STA, IFSTA, Aquatic Educations, Kenya Life Saving Foundation, Netherlands (swim teacher manuals), Safely Living web-site, Switzerland SLG, The Life Saving Foundation (Ireland), Joshua Collingsworth Foundation, Water Safe Auckland, New Zealand Water Safety Code, SOBRASA, Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Swimming Pool Safety Company. 

Several other major organizations are in the process of walking the guidelines through the proper channels and expect to adopt and promote them.  I’ll be contacting many more organizations directly over the next 3 months encouraging them to adopt the guidelines, but if you are interested or have already adopted them, please contact me at rebeccalioness@gmail.com .  The guidelines are listed at the bottom of this blog.

4.  I’ll end by launching a new initiative.  I interviewed Mario Vittone last night.  (I know, I love my work!  I’ll post the interview next week.)  Mario has written THE only article on drowning prevention ever to have gone viral.  It has been translated into 14 languages and is constantly being reprinted.  If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it.  Click here for the link.   Mario wrote the article when he realized that even trained open water  rescue professionals don’t always know what drowning looks like, despite the seminal work of Dr. Francesco Pia 40 years ago on the subject.  Staggeringly enough, this knowledge has still not been incorporated into all life saving and open water rescue training curriculums.  Your assignment?  Read Mario’s article.  And then share it with our friends and family and especially with your curriculum director if you work in any area of drowning prevention and life saving.  The article went viral in the first place because of the powerful mom network, not because of the drowning prevention community.  Time to get on board and see if we can harness our resources as effectively!

Petition Signatures

1.  U.S.

2.  South Africa

3.  U.K.

4.  Australia

5.  Jamaica

6.  Israel

7.  Brazil

8.  Canada

9.  New Zealand

10. Serbia

11. Macedonia

12. Sweden

13. Spain

14. Colombia

15. Mexico

16. Ireland

17. Bosnia and Herzegovina

18. India

19. Philippines

20. Greece

21. Bangladesh

22. Portugal

23. Uganda

24. Cameroon

25. Saudi Arabia

26. Panama

27. Argentina

28. Switzerland

29. Finland

30. Qatar

31. Sri Lanka

32. Fiji

33. United Arab Emirates

34. Jersey

35. Norway

36. Kenya

37. United Republic of Tanzania

38. Paraguay

39. Guam

40. Netherlands

41. Thailand

42. Aruba

43. Nepal

44. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

45. Malaysia

46. Ghana

47. Singapore

48. Benin

49. Viet Nam

50. Armed Forces Pacific - U.S.

51. Plurinational State of Bolivia

52. Maldives

International Open Water Safety Guidelines

Care of Self

Learn swimming and water survival skills.

Always swim with others.

Obey all safety signs and warning flags.

Never go in the water after drinking alcohol.

Know how and when to use a life jacket.

Swim in areas with a lifeguard.

Know the weather and water conditions before getting in the water.

Always enter shallow and unknown water feet first. 

Care of Others

Help and encourage others, especially children, to learn swimming and water safety survival skills.

Swim in areas with lifeguards.

Set water safety rules.

Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.

Know how and when to use a life jacket, especially with children and weak swimmers.

Learn first aid and CPR.

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Tags: Day, International, Jabari, Mario, Petition, Safety, UN, Vittone, Water, drowning, More…of, prevention, the


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