The Miles River Yacht Club Foundation’s highly-successful SOS Sink or Swim program that sponsors free swimming lessons for area children is being spun off on its own to ensure its continued and sustained growth. Over the last three years, SOS has funded lessons for 1,400 children at two Talbot County pools.
“The MRYC Foundation identified a need in the community and began funding swimming lessons for local children in 2014. The response to SOS has been so enthusiastic that we realized it was time to form a new entity that would focus solely on the mission of teaching all our children how to swim and be safe in the water,” said Elizabeth C. Moose, the Foundation’s chairman.
To help achieve that goal, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has agreed to be the Fiscal Sponsor for SOS. This agreement will allow SOS to focus on its core mission, while CBMM will provide much needed technical and administrative resources.
“We welcome SOS and share its commitment to serving the youth of our region,” CBMM President Kristen L. Greenaway said. “We are dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation of Chesapeake Bay stewards and working with SOS fits perfectly into that mission.”
MRYC Foundation Board Members, under the direction of then-chairman Dr. Sherry Manning, started SOS in 2014 as a way of countering accidental drowning in a region surrounded by water. The members were moved by the deaths of three area children who drowned after slipping into a creek so they decided to take action. The first goal was to raise enough money to pay for swimming lessons for 100 children at the Bay Hundred Pool in St. Michaels.
The Foundation partnered with the St. Michaels Community Center’s Bay Hundred Swim Kids program to administer SOS. Before that first summer was over, the Foundation funded lessons for 275 children. Board members immediately realized they had found a greater need than anticipated.
Fundraisers have been held and generous supporters have contributed donations as the program has expanded. In 2015, another 500 local children were taught how to swim. In 2016, with the help of the Talbot County Parks and Recreation Department, the program was expanded to the George Murphy Pool in Easton and instructors taught another 900 Talbot County children how to swim. The 2017 season will again be held at the two community pools. Registration will begin in May and the goal is to raise at least $50,000 to teach 1,000 more children.
It costs just $50 to teach a child the life-saving skill of swimming.