On Saturday, May 13, 2023, SwimRVA hosted its annual Down River Rip event. This fast-paced swim is one of Richmond’s premier open water events. Participants were challenged to swim down river, with the fast current, to Robious Landing in either a 4.4-mile or 2.5-mile swim. Over 70 swimmers were in attendance. The 4.4-mile participants started at Watkins Landing and made there way down river where they met, almost halfway, with the 2.5-mile participants. Together they rode the current down to the finish line.
The Down River Rip is a fundraising event for SwimRVA’s Learn To Swim program. Did you know that 50% of the population does not know how to swim? According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among children aged 1–4 years and second among children 5–9 years.
SwimRVA has a vision to Drownproof Richmond by changing lives through aquatics. The Learn To Swim program is a cost-free swim lesson program for second graders in the region. It provides these students with 7 lessons during the school day and SwimRVA covers the transportation, life safety team, instructors, water, etc… By collaborating and coordinating with other organizations and facilities, SwimRVA is providing over 2,000 students in the Greater Richmond Region with the opportunity to learn how to swim. That’s over 14,000 lessons each school year.
“We see incredible progress in these seven weeks. The best part is the excitement these students have when they pass a station. They are learning positive success habits in every lesson.” explains Dr. Debbie Kelo, Director of Programs for SwimRVA.
Not only are these swim lessons providing students with the skills to be water safe, but also the tools to be active, healthy, and fit for the rest of their lives. Water is all around us. Living in the River City while also being so close to lakes, pools, and oceans, it is imperative that every child has access to these water safety skills.
SwimRVA’s goal is to have every single second grade student participating in the Learn To Swim program. How can you help? Become an aquatics advocate. Tell your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers how important learning to swim is. Tell them not everyone has access to aquatics. Let them know that Richmond can be a safe place for our kids around water. Let them know that together, we can Drownproof Richmond.
This year the Down River Rip raised over $12,000!! It costs around $100 per student to go through the Learn To Swim program. This event has helped give 120 of our community’s youth ACCESS to water safety. Thank you to everyone who participated and we look forward to seeing you all next year!