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National Survey Uncovers Swim Safety Misconceptions Among Parents, Shows Increase in Swim Lesson Enrollment This Summer Season

Step Into Swim addresses swim safety during National Water Safety Month

Alexandria, Va. (May 1, 2023) – In recognition of National Water Safety Month, the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) and its Step Into Swim initiative, a program committed to creating more swimmers through safe swim education, today announced results from their second annual national survey conducted by The Harris Poll1 to shed light on parental swimming concerns and awareness of drowning prevention education.

Learning to swim from a qualified instructor reduces the drowning rate by 88% among children ages 1 to 4,2 the same age group impacted most by drowning deaths.3 As such, the survey revealed that 60% of parents who have a child ages 14 or under plan to enroll their child in formal swimming lessons this year, an increase from last year’s 54%. While 83% of parents who have a child ages 14 or under are confident in their child’s ability to be safe in the water, many parents (60%) incorrectly assume that someone who is drowning will draw attention to themselves by splashing and screaming. This underscores the importance of swim safety, especially considering 28% of parents who have a child ages 14 or under know someone impacted by a drowning incident.

“Even with an increase in swimming lesson enrollment, there is a knowledge gap about drowning prevention,” said Sabeena Hickman, President and CEO of PHTA. “Step Into Swim works tirelessly to bridge that gap by improving access to swim education across the country and advocating for water safety with support from our many industry partners who share our passion for creating more swimmers.”

Additional survey findings show that among parents who have a child ages 14 or under:

  • 52% say they are aware of places that offer local swim lessons for their family
  • Despite 78% who say they have access to a pool, only 35% are concerned about their child drowning in a pool
  • 52% are confident in their own swimming abilities, 37% have had formal swim lessons, and 29% are CPR certified
  • 66% incorrectly believe floaties and water wings keep children safe

When it comes to types of water access, 56% of parents who have a child ages 14 or under would allow their child to swim in open water like a lake or ocean without a certified lifeguard on duty. Only 16% of parents are comfortable letting their child swim without adult supervision. Supervision is a critical layer of protection since drowning can happen in the time it takes to send a text message,4 a fact known by 88% of parents who have a child ages 14 or under.

“Learning to swim is a lifesaving skill that instills confidence and empowers the next generation of safe swimmers,” said Rowdy Gaines, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Vice President of Partnerships and Development at PHTA who leads Step Into Swim. “As we head into the summer with lots of opportunities to be around water, it’s important to keep the top focus areas of water safety in mind, including awareness, education, training and preparedness. Together, we can create a safer environment for everyone to enjoy the water.”

For swim safety tips and resources, visit


About the Survey Method:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of PHTA from April 13-17, 2023, among 636 U.S. parents aged 18+ who have a child ages 14 or under. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +/- 4.4 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Amy Willer at PHTA.

About Pool & Hot Tub Alliance and Step Into Swim:

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with nearly 3,500 members from around the world, was established in 1956 to support, promote, and protect the common interests of the $36.5B pool, hot tub, and spa industry. PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development, research, and market growth to increase our members’ professionalism, knowledge, and profitability. PHTA facilitates the expansion of swimming, water safety and related research and outreach activities aimed at introducing more people to swimming, making swimming environments safer and keeping pools open to serve communities. For more information, visit

Step Into Swim™ is an initiative of the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance and its foundation committed to safe swim education and drowning prevention. By investing in the next generation of swimmers through learn-to-swim programming, the Step Into Swim initiative instills confidence, empowers long-term participation in water activities, touts the positive benefits of water play, and advocates for safe practices. Since its inception in 2012, Step Into Swim has played a role in reducing drowning fatalities and has gifted swim lessons to more than 300,000 children with support from community organizations, partners, industry advocates, members and more. For more information, visit

1 This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of PHTA from April 13-17, 2023, among 636 U.S. parents aged 18+ who have a child ages 14 or under.
2 Brenner, R. A., et al. (2009). Association Between Swimming Lessons and Drowning in Childhood: A Case-Control Study. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drowning Facts.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drowning Prevention.



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