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Gov. Kathy Hochul announces New York SWIMS initiative

Gov. Kathy Hochul announces New York SWIMS initiative
Gov. Kathy Hochul announces New York SWIMS initiative 02:12

NEW YORK -- Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday announced plans to expand access to swimming, including the use of a newly designed floating swimming pool in city waters -- something that's been talked about for years.

As one young swimmer from East Harlem noted, getting in the water serves many purposes.

"Numerous physical, mental and social benefits," he said.

But many people lack access.

"In these communities, a reduction in obesity and drowning rates is greatly needed," he said.

"I didn't have a swimming pool in my community. I had a water hose and hopefully the fire hydrant was turned on. That was my pool," Mayor Eric Adams said. "New York City is surrounded by water, folks, and our young people are not being taught how to swim, and it's becoming some of the leading causes of death through drowning."

"Drownings in our state have reached record highs in the last couple years, claiming 230 lives in 2021 alone, the last year we have numbers for. All of them are preventable," Hochul said.

To try to prevent any more drownings, the governor announced the New York SWIMS initiative, a statewide investment.

It will cover the Plus Pool, a portable pool with filtered water that would be positioned in the waters surrounding New York City -- a proposed project that's been floated around for years.

The state will pay $12 million, the city -- $4 million. Testing will take place summer 2024 with plans for swimmers the following year.

Currently, the city uses the Floating Pool Lady, a barge re-made into a pool positioned in the Bronx during the warmer months.

Grant funding would cover other floating pools elsewhere in the state, 10 new pools in underserved communities, and Hochul says the state is "launching a $30 million fund to deploy pop-up pools, above-ground pools that can combat extreme heat."

She says grant money will also help with the lifeguard shortage. The mayor hopes providing access for all communities will translate to more lifeguards.

"We are teaching young people how to swim earlier so that they can participate in the benefits of being a lifeguard," Adams said.

They also plan to fund transportation to pools and cite climate change causing summer scorchers as another reason to invest in swimming.

Worth noting -- New York City Parks offers free swim classes.

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