After jumping from their post to rescue a flailing child 300 times when Goodman Pool first opened, lifeguards are only making a third of those saves six years later, thanks to a stronger focus on swimming lessons.
According to Madison Parks Superintendent Kevin Briski, saves by lifeguards at Goodman Pool average only 100 per summer, a number that has decreased drastically since the pool first opened in 2007. Briski said it’s largely a result of Madison Parks’ recent push to expand swimming lessons across the city.
“Our rescues have steadily gone down each and every year, because kids are learning to swim, and that's an important mission we wanted to make sure we got out,” Briski said.
It’s a statistic parent Erika Hagen is glad to hear. She currently has two children enrolled in lessons at Goodman Pool, and she said growing up in a city surrounded by water makes it all the more important her sons learn to swim.
“I really want them to be able to swim so that they're comfortable in the water and that they’re safe in the water,” Hagen said.
Goodman Pool isn’t the only body of water available to Hagen’s children and others looking to learn to swim. In the past several years, city officials have expanded swimming lessons from the pool to four Madison beaches, including Esther, Olbrich and Warner.
More than 150 children are enrolled at lessons on one of the city beaches, according to a City of Madison statement, and at least 700 are enrolled in lessons across the city. Accessibility to those lessons is another issue Madison Parks is addressing. Thanks to donations by the Goodman and the Shelley Glover Foundations, scholarships for children in need are available to those interested in learning how to swim.
“Because we live near water and we’re surrounded by water, our mission is to give every kid an opportunity to swim here in Madison,” Briski said.