July 2, 2024
Albany, NY

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

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

Governor Hochul launched the “Get Offline, Get Outside” summer campaign and announced that swimming pool entry is free at New York State Parks.

Governor Kathy Hochul today launched the “Get Offline, Get Outside” summer campaign to promote physical and mental health by helping New York’s kids and families to put down their phones and computers, take a break from social media, and enjoy recreation and outdoor social gatherings. Governor Hochul kicked off the campaign by announcing that the State is waiving swimming pool entry fees at New York State Parks this summer. Additionally, Governor Hochul launched the $1.5 million Connect Kids to Swimming Instruction Transportation Grant program to help with transportation to swimming lessons as part of the NY SWIMS initiative. This follows the Governor's historic $150 million NY SWIMS investment to support pools in underserved communities – New York's biggest investment in swimming since the New Deal. Governor Hochul made today’s announcement at Riverbank State Park Pools in New York City alongside local elected officials.

“We’re making it easier for our young people to put down their phones and computers, enjoy time with friends and family, and stay active all cross our state,” Governor Hochul said. “Summer is here – get offline and get outside.”


Governor Hochul’s “Get Offline, Get Outside” campaign builds on her efforts to promote healthy living among young people and families across New York.

Governor Hochul recently signed nation-leading legislation – the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act and New York Child Data Protection Act – to protect kids from addictive social media feeds and shield their personal data from online platforms.

As part of her $1 billion investment in mental health statewide, Governor Hochul has significantly expanded access to mental health care and resources for young people and their families, including school-based mental health clinics and Youth Assertive Community Treatment teams. This focus on youth supports and services continued with additional investments secured by the Governor in the FY2025 Enacted Budget.

Just as Governor Hochul is helping young people to avoid unhealthy habits and support their mental health, she is also making it easier for kids to get physically active and spend time outdoors with friends and family. Today’s announcements to expand access to pools and transportation to swimming lessons will help more New Yorkers across the state to “Get Offline, Get Outside.”

Removing Pool Fees at State Parks

Governor Hochul announced that the State is waiving pool entry fees for the rest of this summer at swimming pools located at State Parks throughout New York. Regular parking fees still apply at State Parks locations that include on-site parking. Governor Hochul has also initiated a pilot program at State Park pools to offer free sunscreen to help families stay safe in the sun and enjoy the outdoors.

New Yorkers can now visit the following pools without being charged entry fees this summer:

  • Hudson Valley
    • Bear Mountain State Park Pool – Bear Mountain
    • FDR State Park Pool – Yorktown
    • High Tor State Park Pool – New City
    • Rockland Lake State Park Pool – Valley Cottage
  • New York City
    • Roberto Clemente State Park Pool – Bronx
    • Riverbank State Park Pools (Indoor and Outdoor) – Manhattan
  • Long Island
    • Jones Beach State Park West Bathhouse Pool – Wantagh
    • Montauk Downs State Park Pool – Montauk
  • Capital Region
    • Saratoga Spa State Park Pools (Peerless and Victoria) – Saratoga Springs
  • Mohawk Valley
    • Mine Kill State Park Pool – North Blenheim
  • Southern Tier
    • Watkins Glen State Park Pool – Watkins Glen
  • Finger Lakes
    • Letchworth State Park Pool – Castile
  • Western New York
    • Fort Niagara State Park Pool – Youngstown
  • North Country
    • Keewaydin State Park Pool – Alexandria Bay

Summer is here – get offline and get outside.”

Governor Kathy Hochul

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.

Governor Hochul Launches “Get Offline, Get Outside” Summer Campaign

State Senator Robert Jackson said, “By clearing paths to our state parks and boosting access to swimming lessons, NY is nurturing both physical and mental wellness. I commend Governor Hochul's efforts to motivate New Yorkers, especially our youth, to step away from screens and immerse in nature. This summer, disconnect to reconnect—embrace the wild, dive deep into community bonds, and swim towards a revitalized tomorrow for our families.”

State Senator Cordell Cleare said, "I am all for the ‘Get Offline, Get Outside’ summer campaign. For many of our families, our parks are our backyards. They are our weekend and holiday getaways. Our parks are where we get our experience and enjoy green and open space, sunshine, outdoor relaxation, and sports activities. Parks like Riverbank boast several features and facilities that accommodate activities such as skating, basketball, performances, picnicking, swimming, and more. The indoor and outdoor pools at Riverbank provide magical inner-city swimming opportunities with a view of the Hudson River as a backdrop. There, families can escape the heat, learn to swim, and participate in a host of water activities, all while making new friends, and creating new memories. By providing free admission to our pools helps families keep a few dollars in their pockets. The community also benefits economically from the raised hourly pay rate for lifeguards, which presents an opportunity for our young people to be employed in a worthwhile and meaningful position. I wholeheartedly support Gov. Hochul’s $1.5 Million Grant Program to help children have access to transportation to swimming lessons. However, they need pools to go to in order for this to be of consequence in our community, so I definitely back the Governor's $150 Million NY SWIMS investment to support pools in underserved communities. More pools mean that many, many families can enjoy this wonderful recreation."

Assemblymember Al Taylor said, “As the representative for the 71st Assembly District, which includes parts of Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood, I'm thrilled to join Governor Kathy Hochul and my colleagues in making our state parks more accessible. By making pools free, we're ensuring that families in our community can enjoy these fantastic resources without financial barriers. The $150 million investment in swimming pools and the $1.5 million partnership for transportation will help everyone get offline and get outside. Additionally, funding for swimming lessons and transportation to facilities will ensure that our community can fully benefit from these enhancements. This investment in our state parks will enrich the lives of our neighbors and strengthen our sense of community.”

Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos said, “NY SWIMS is a great investment by Governor Hochul to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. Those who enjoy getting outdoors during the summer will be able to enjoy safe swimming spaces in our state parks and pop-up pools. And as we live with the effects of climate change, expanded access to these public spaces will keep people cool during heat waves.”

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, “The Governor's campaign is a victory for New Yorkers, especially for youths with increased access to pools and swim lessons, plus protections from addictive social media, promise a healthier summer and future for our youngest.”

Councilmember Yusef Salaam said, “By removing swimming pool entry fees and expanding access to swimming lessons across the state, we are not only encouraging our youth to engage in healthy outdoor activities but also ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn this vital life skill. I want to thank Governor Hochul for investing in communities like ours statewide and I am excited for the children of Harlem to have access to the Riverbank State Park pools free of charge this summer.”

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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