NY SWIMS Will Dramatically Expand Access to Safe Swimming, Addressing Equity Gaps with Recreational Opportunities & Providing Resources for Communities Facing Extreme Heat
NY SWIMS Will Build Out New Municipal Pools Across the State, Activate Natural Waterways, Deploy Mobile Pools to Areas Prone to Extreme Heat, and Launch Historic Investments in New York State’s Parks System
New York State and New York City will Partner on Floating a First-of-Its-Kind +Pool in City Waters
New York will Increase the Number of Parks, Pools and Beaches that Offer Swimming Instruction, Train and Recruit New Lifeguards
Drowning is the Leading Cause of Death Nationwide for Children Ages 1-4 According to CDC Statistics
Governor Kathy Hochul today unveiled NY SWIMS: the New York Statewide Investment In More Swimming, the fourth proposal of her 2024 State of the State. 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 pools 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.
“Access to swimming isn’t just about recreation – it’s about public health and climate resiliency,” Governor Hochul said. “NY SWIMS will be the largest statewide investment in swimming since the New Deal, expanding access for underserved communities and improving safety for kids across New York.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “When we came into office two years ago, we had a mission: Protect public safety, revitalize the economy, and make this city more livable for hardworking New Yorkers. Every day, we are delivering on this vision for New Yorkers, including by investing in our children’s safety with new swimming infrastructure. I’m proud to partner with Governor Hochul to bring the +Pool, a unique and innovative swimming pool, to New York City — expanding access to swimming for all New Yorkers.”
NY SWIMS will invest in expanding swimming access across the State, focusing on underserved communities and areas prone to extreme heat. NY SWIMS will deliver $150 million in grant funding for localities to build out 10 new landmark public swimming pools in areas most in need, drive innovation in pool designs, and deploy pop-up above-ground pools to combat extreme heat.
As New York State Parks celebrate their Centennial in 2024, NY SWIMS will reverse decades of disinvestment to ensure public parks offer new, state-of-the-art swimming facilities which can serve thousands of daily visitors.
New York State will also partner with New York City to bring the vision of +Pool, a filtered floating pool which can sit in New York’s rivers, to life by jointly funding a demonstration project which will ensure this innovative model can safely provide access to swimmers.
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. Drownings in New York State have reached record highs in recent years, claiming the lives of 230 New Yorkers in 2021 (the last year data is available) and more than 1,000 New Yorkers from 2017 to 2021. Drowning now ranks as the leading cause of death among children aged one to four years old in the United States, and it is the second-leading cause of death for children aged 5 to 14. Without equitable and widespread access to safe swimming opportunities, fewer people will develop foundational swimming and water safety skills, more people will swim in unsafe waterways without lifeguards, and more preventable drowning deaths will continue to occur each year.
Building Out Municipal Pools in High-Need Areas
NY SWIMS, overseen by State Parks and administered by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), will create a competitive $60 million grant program to facilitate the renovation and construction of pools in high-need neighborhoods across the State. Through NY SWIMS, local municipalities can apply for grants for public pool projects. NY SWIMS grants can be used to fund the design and construction or renovation of swimming pools along with other related capital expenses, including site infrastructure, splash pads, diving boards and slides, bathrooms and changing rooms, concessions, land acquisition, and other features that create value for local communities.
Reimagining How New Yorkers Engage with Rivers and Lakes
To help reimagine how New Yorker’s can engage with the water, including rivers and lakes, New York will create pathways and funding opportunities to encourage real innovation in swimming infrastructure. Governor Hochul will provide $60 million in competitive grant funding to municipalities for the deployment of innovative, floating pools that can allow New Yorkers to safely swim in natural bodies of water. To help ensure floating pools meet all appropriate public health standards, the New York State Department of Health will provide guidance that will allow organizations to test the feasibility of innovative swimming pool designs within the state’s natural waters.
New York State and New York City will collaborate on launching +Pool, a state-of-the-art swimming facility which would float in the waters surrounding New York City. Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams announced that the State and City would jointly fund a +Pool demonstration project which will be tested in the summer of 2024 and opened to the public in the following year.
Deploying Pools in Urban Environments
To combat hotter summer temperatures and help directly integrate swimming opportunities into urban environments, the State will create a $30 million innovative municipal grant program to fund small, mobile, pop-up swimming pools. These pools would be movable or temporary facilities that could be dispatched to block parties, parks, events, or open spaces.
As recommended by New York State’s Extreme Heat Action Plan Work Group, access to outdoor cooling opportunities and recreational resources such as parks and swimming areas is vital for disadvantaged communities and high-risk populations that do not have access to indoor cooling. Improving access to locations like pools that can provide temporary relief from extreme heat can offer added refuge for affected communities.
Pools could range in size from larger installations, like the larger-scale temporary pools and facilities that have operated over the past five years at Brooklyn Bridge Park, to smaller “container”-type pools, which can sit on surface streets.
Access to swimming isn’t just about recreation – it’s about public health and climate resiliency."
Investing in our State Parks and Pools
In time for the New York State Parks Centennial celebration, Governor Hochul will advance a historic set of investments in public swimming facilities. Reversing decades of closures and cutbacks, the Governor’s plan will restore or reconstruct facilities throughout the State, including:
- Redesigning Harriman State Park’s Lake Sebago Beach, which has been closed since 2011 due to damage from Hurricane Irene. Through this massive rehabilitation project, visitors and hikers alike can soon seek refuge to cool down and once again go swimming at Lake Sebago.
- 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, will be redesigned and reimagined for future generations to enjoy. Through an infusion for 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.
- Sojourner Truth State Park, once the site of cement production, brick making, quarrying, and ice harvesting, the property has since been transformed into New York’s newest park. Through additional investments, the park will be expanded to include a floating swim structure in the Quarry Lake.
In addition to these projects, Governor Hochul will grow the annual capital investments into our State’s parks to build capacity while investing in existing infrastructure. This will bring more recreational resources to communities across the State. All of these important projects will expand direct access to swimming, helping more people learn how to swim and providing cooling opportunities for underserved communities.
Providing More Lifeguards and Swimming Instruction
To address the shortage of lifeguards that significantly constrains the provision of safe swim time, the State will offer a grant program through the Department of State to reimburse municipalities for expenses related to lifeguard compensation to help expand operating hours, increase staffing levels for swim programs, and widen access to public beaches and pools throughout New York State.
Reinvigorating the Free Learn-to-Swim at State Parks
State Parks will more than 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.
Getting Kids to the Pool
New York will partner with municipalities to assist with locating additional swimming facilities to utilize in the summer and shoulder seasons for aquatic swim instruction. State Parks will work to transport students and their families to facilities where swimming is offered through the Connect Kids programs.
Making SUNY Pools Community Anchors
Governor Hochul will direct SUNY to 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.
Governor Hochul will initiate a pilot program at State Park pools to offer free sunscreen to help families stay safe in the sun and enjoy the outdoors.
New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “The Department of State has a long and successful track record of working with municipalities across New York State to enhance operations, facilitate growth, and ensure public safety. This new program is an additional tool that would allow us to work with local governments to provide better access to public pools and beaches and further improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. I applaud Governor Hochul for this creative initiative that will ensure families throughout the state have a safe place to swim.”
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, New York State is enhancing our public health investment and expanding healthy recreational opportunities for all communities as we seek to close equity gaps and end health care inequities. NY SWIMS is the largest statewide investment in swimming in decades, and these State of the State priorities demonstrate our commitment to training new lifeguards, enhancing swim safety, and expanding access to swimming for all New Yorkers.”
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Swimming is one of the most popular recreational activities in our parks – and it is one of the most important skills we can teach our children. I commend Governor Hochul for this aggressive plan to expand much-needed options for New Yorkers to swim, and help them stay safe while doing so.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, “After another year of record-breaking temperatures, extreme heat and climate-driven severe weather events are negatively impacting our communities more than ever before. I applaud Governor Hochul for this nation-leading effort to increase access to pools and world class swimming opportunities, especially in disadvantaged communities, while ensuring more New Yorkers are prepared to enjoy the outdoors and recreate safely.”
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