May 23, 2024
Albany, NY

Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, Governor Hochul Announces Investments to Keep New Yorkers Safe in the Water Through NY SWIMS Initiative

Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, Governor Hochul Announces Investments to Keep New Yorkers Safe in the Water Through NY SWIMS Initiative

Celebrates $100 Million to Redesign and Reimagine Abandoned Pool Complex at Jones Beach East Bathhouse; Renderings of Renovation and Photos of the Existing Condition of Bathhouse Available Here

Launches $5 Million Lifeguard Grant Program to Help Municipalities Combat Shortage; Applications Due July 26

Announces $2 Million from FY 2025 Budget to Make SUNY Pools Community Anchors

Builds on Previous Announcement Making Up to $90 Million Available from FY 2025 Budget for Municipal Swimming Facilities in Underserved Communities

Governor Hochul Also Announced Additional Measures to Monitor for Sharks at State Park Beaches on Long Island This Summer

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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced investments to keep New Yorkers safe in the water through the New York State Wide Investment in Municipal Swimming initiative. Recognizing that drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and that climate change will increase extreme heat events, Governor Hochul secured measures in the FY 2025 Enacted Budget and launched other initiatives for NY SWIMS to build out municipal pools in high-need areas, connect New Yorkers to the State’s rivers and lakes, address the lifeguard shortage, and invest in State parks and pools. At Jones Beach State Park today, Governor Hochul celebrated progress on several components of the NY SWIMS initiative as well as additional measures to monitor for sharks at State Parks on Long Island this summer.

“As drownings in New York State reach record levels among young children, it’s clear that this is a public health issue,” Governor Hochul said. “NY SWIMS is the largest statewide investment in swimming since the New Deal, and we are creating new ways to provide children and their families safe spaces to learn how to swim.”

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NY SWIMS Initiatives

Disparate access to safe and convenient opportunities for swimming has denied far too many New Yorkers the chance to engage with the water and learn foundational water safety skills. NY SWIMS invests in expanding swimming access across the State, focusing on underserved communities and areas prone to extreme heat. It also reverses decades of disinvestment to ensure public parks offer new, state-of-the-art swimming facilities which can serve thousands of daily visitors.

Renovating Jones Beach East Bathhouse

Governor Hochul secured $100 million to invest in the Jones Beach East Bathhouse, the last major piece of iconic and historic Jones Beach State Park infrastructure not yet touched by the revitalization of the past 10 years. The pool complex will be redesigned and reimagined for future generations to enjoy. The additional funding to mark the park system’s centennial, State Parks will convert an abandoned pool complex into a destination spray park, introducing and incorporating a unique Learn to Swim feature to help children and inexperienced swimmers stay safe in a smaller, controlled environment. State Parks will partner with the Office of General Services to oversee construction of the project. Renderings of the project and photos of the existing condition of the East Bathhouse available here.

Providing More Lifeguards

To address the shortage of lifeguards that significantly constrains the provision of safe swim time, Governor Hochul today announced the availability of $5 million in funds through the Department of State to help incentivize lifeguard recruitment and retention across New York.

Eligible applicants for the funding include New York City, all New York State counties outside of New York City, and the cities of Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers. In partnership with the State, counties will be empowered to direct funding locally to help best support their Town, Village and City lifeguard-attended public swimming areas and swim programs to achieve the highest impact and assist communities in greatest need of support.
The application period for eligible municipalities is now open and the deadline to apply is July 26, 2024. SWIMS Lifeguard Grant funding may be used to cover project costs related to safe swimming opportunities including:

  • Advertising for lifeguard positions
  • Lifeguard retention and referral bonuses
  • Supplementing hourly lifeguard wages
  • Lifeguard salary increases.

In 2022, Governor Hochul directed a pay increase for state lifeguards to help address a staffing shortage at New York State Park beaches and pools, Department of Environmental Conservation campgrounds, and day use areas beaches.

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 will open 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.

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. Applications for funding will become available in the coming weeks, and any SUNY campus with an operational swimming pool will be eligible for funds.

Improving Swimming Options and Experiences at State Parks

Part of the Governor’s NY SWIMS initiative is to create more swim instruction opportunities and keep kids protected at the pool or beach. Governor Hochul directed State Parks to:

  • Double the number of pools and beaches that offer water safety instruction programs in 2024 – from 7 to 17 – phasing in the additional beaches and pools in future years.
  • Work to transport students and their families to facilities where swimming is offered through the Connect Kids programs.
  • Offer free sunscreen at State Park pools to help families stay safe in the sun and enjoy the outdoors.

Monitoring for Sharks at Long Island State Beaches

Governor Hochul today also updated New Yorkers on measures to monitor for sharks and other marine life at Long Island State Beaches this summer. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) added and renewed surveillance capability, including more drones and drone operators, to prepare for the swimming season at Long Island State Park Beaches. Swimming opens for the season at Jones Beach, Robert Moses and Sunken Meadow State Parks Memorial Day weekend.

State Parks’ expanded surveillance capabilities this summer include:

  • Long Island State Parks is adding five drones to its 17 currently in operation (including six at Jones Beach and four at Robert Moses) for a total of 22 drones.
  • Long Island State Parks have 29 trained drone pilots among operations staff, lifeguards and Park Police, and will add at least 11 additional pilots by July 4.
  • One drone assigned to Park Police is a large enterprise drone with thermal imaging, laser range finding, and high-quality cameras to allow for night-time surveillance and patrols in adverse weather conditions. This drone can also drop personal flotation devices in emergencies.

Additionally, New York State extended the application period for Beachfront Drone Grant Program through November 1.

We are creating new ways to provide children and their families safe spaces to learn how to swim.”

Governor Kathy Hochul

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, “Swimming is one of the most popular and fun ways people enjoy our parks – and it’s a critical life skill. As we celebrate the Centennial of the New York State Park System, it’s fitting that the revitalization of the historic Jones Beach East Bathhouse is a centerpiece of Governor Hochul’s NY SWIMS initiative. Our agency looks forward to working with the Governor to expand much-needed safe public swimming options for New Yorkers.”

New York Secretary of State Walter T. Mosley said, “Governor Hochul’s NY SWIMS program will help municipalities bolster their efforts to recruit and retain lifeguards so children and adults can enjoy the water on a hot summer day safely and parents can take comfort in knowing a second set of eyes are there to protect their families. With this funding, the Department of State is ready to help local governments ease some of the lifeguard shortages we are facing across the state.”

DASNY President and CEO Robert J Rodriguez said, “The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York takes immense pride in supporting Governor Hochul’s vision of creating new swimming and recreational opportunities throughout New York State. We are excited to help deliver the needed capital investments across the state through the NY SWIMS initiative. These resources are critically important in our underserved communities as we work to build a better New York for today and future generations.”

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, “A key component of Governor Hochul’s NY SWIMS initiative is providing amenities at pools and beaches in communities across New York State where children are learning the essential and potentially life-saving skill of swimming. OGS is proud to join with our partners at State Parks to renovate and create a fully accessible learn-to-swim pool at the historic Jones Beach East Bathhouse on Long Island.”

State Senator Kevin Thomas said, “As we gear up for this summer, I’m happy to support Governor Hochul’s NY SWIMS initiative to enhance water safety across the state. These investments will ensure Long Islanders are able to enjoy our waterways safely and responsibly for years to come and underscore our commitment to keeping New Yorkers safe as they enjoy outdoor activities on both land and in water."

Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages said, “This investment in public swimming pools will allow countless additional New Yorkers to learn how to swim. More children in our state should learn this valuable skill that saves lives and makes summer more enjoyable for everyone. Long Island will undoubtedly benefit from these historic investments in NY SWIMS, Jones Beach, and more lifeguards to make swimming more accessible for all our people.”

Executive Director of the New York Association of Counties Stephen Acquario said, “The State’s investment in local swimming pools will expand opportunities for summer recreation in our municipal operated beaches and pools across the state, many without the capacity to make the necessary investment. NY SWIMS, a priority of Governor Hochul during state budget negotiations, provides a unique capital infusion that will expand opportunities for residents to swim, a lifelong skill. In addition, NY SWIMS will provide counties and local governments with funding to train and recruit lifeguards, which are in high demand. Counties applaud the Governor for addressing an unmet need across the state.”

Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Mayors Barbara Van Epps said,“NYCOM applauds Governor Hochul for not only making swimming a priority throughout New York, but also for promoting safe swimming by allocating resources specifically to address the short supply of lifeguards in so many of our communities. With the summer months fast approaching, this initiative will go a long way toward increasing and enhancing the recreational opportunities that exist for children and their families all across the State.”

Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, Governor Hochul Announces Investments to Keep New Yorkers Safe in the Water Through NY SWIMS Initiative

Nassau County Minority Leader Delia DeRiggi-Whitton said, "Governor Hochul’s commitment to enhancing public safety and community well-being through the NY SWIMS initiative is truly commendable. These significant investments are making a big splash in Nassau County, reflecting a proactive approach to ensure that every New Yorker can dive into our beautiful waters safely. This initiative will ensure that our summer is safer and more enjoyable, setting a new standard for community well-being and water safety across Long Island."

Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Hempstead Dorothy Goosby said, "Governor Hochul's unwavering commitment to water safety shines through her $100 million investment in revitalizing Jones Beach East Bathhouse. From the Lifeguard Grant Program to support for SUNY Pools, her initiatives are making a real difference. Governor Hochul is a true leader in keeping New Yorkers safe in the water."

Co-Founder of the New York Water Safety Coalition, Founder of End Drowning Now, and Director of Stop Drowning Now Bobby Hazen said, "Drowning is preventable, so with the proper water safety education to our parents, caregivers, children, and communities about the layers of protection needed and the importance of taking Swim Lessons we absolutely can reduce the risk of drowning. Thank you to Governor Hochul for recognizing the problem and taking the initiative to help fix it."

Founder of ReesSpecht Life and creator of the ReesSpecht Water Campaign Rich Specht said, “With the latest CDC reports indicating that drowning deaths continue to rise nationally, it's clear our current approach isn't working. Our family, having experienced this loss firsthand, is tragically aware of how our collective ignorance regarding water safety is costing us the lives of our children. Education is the key to reversing this trend and we applaud the Governor for her commitment to educating New York families about the very real danger drowning represents to our children.”

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