WGVA 106.3FM 1240AMMix 98.5101.7 The WallWFLR Finger Lakes Country Classic Hits 99.3The Lake 100.1/104.5 WAUB 96.3FM 1590AM

Hochul: Investments Will Make New Yorkers Safe in the Water


Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the state has announced investments to keep New Yorkers safe in the water through the New York StateWide Investment in Municipal Swimming initiative.

Recognizing that drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and claiming that climate change will increase extreme heat events, Governor Hochul secured measures in the FY 2025 Enacted Budget and launched other initiatives for NY SWIMS to build out municipal pools in high-need areas, connect New Yorkers to the State’s rivers and lakes, address the lifeguard shortage, and invest in State parks and pools. At Jones Beach State Park Thursday, Governor Hochul celebrated progress on several components of the NY SWIMS initiative as well as additional measures to monitor for sharks at State Parks on Long Island this summer.

NY SWIMS Initiatives

Disparate access to safe and convenient opportunities for swimming has denied far too many New Yorkers the chance to engage with the water and learn foundational water safety skills. NY SWIMS invests in expanding swimming access across the State, focusing on underserved communities and areas prone to extreme heat. It also reverses decades of disinvestment to ensure public parks offer new, state-of-the-art swimming facilities that can serve thousands of daily visitors.

Providing More Lifeguards

To address the shortage of lifeguards that significantly constrains the provision of safe swim time, Governor Hochul today announced the availability of $5 million in funds through the Department of State to help incentivize lifeguard recruitment and retention across New York.

Eligible applicants for the funding include New York City, all New York State counties outside of New York City, and the cities of Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers. In partnership with the State, counties will be empowered to direct funding locally to help best support their Town, Village and City lifeguard-attended public swimming areas and swim programs to achieve the highest impact and assist communities in greatest need of support.

The application period for eligible municipalities is now open and the deadline to apply is July 26, 2024. SWIMS Lifeguard Grant funding may be used to cover project costs related to safe swimming opportunities including:

  • Advertising for lifeguard positions
  • Lifeguard retention and referral bonuses
  • Supplementing hourly lifeguard wages
  • Lifeguard salary increases.

In 2022, Governor Hochul directed a pay increase for state lifeguards to help address a staffing shortage at New York State Park beaches and pools, Department of Environmental Conservation campgrounds, and day-use areas beaches.

Building Out Municipal Pools in High-Need Areas

Governor Hochul recently announced that up to $90 million from the new $150 million NY SWIMS capital grant program is now available. Included in the FY 2025 Enacted Budget and the 2024 State of the State, the program offers grants between $50,000 and $10 million to acquire, design, construct or reconstruct facilities, provide major renovations, improvements, and modernization or rehabilitation of swimming facilities and natural swimming areas. The Request for Applications for the first round of funding was posted on May 1 at www.dasny.org and www.parks.ny.gov.

The first application period for the NY SWIMS capital grant will open on June 13, 2024, and applications must be submitted by July 12, 2024. Awards are expected to be announced no earlier than August 28, 2024. Applications will be evaluated on characteristics of projects’ need, impact, and viability.

Making SUNY Pools Community Anchors

Governor Hochul secured nearly $2 million in the FY 2025 Budget for SUNY campuses to offer lifeguard certification courses and expand access to learn-to-swim classes for youth. SUNY will collaborate with schools, youth and community-based organizations and municipalities to increase learn-to-swim opportunities across every region of the State. In addition, New York will incentivize SUNY students who are skilled swimmers to become lifeguards by covering the cost of a lifeguard certification exam, and by giving college credit for lifeguard training courses. Applications for funding will become available in the coming weeks, and any SUNY campus with an operational swimming pool will be eligible for funds.

Improving Swimming Options and Experiences at State Parks

Part of the Governor’s NY SWIMS initiative is to create more swim instruction opportunities and keep kids protected at the pool or beach. Governor Hochul directed State Parks to:

  • Double the number of pools and beaches that offer water safety instruction programs in 2024 – from 7 to 17 – phasing in the additional beaches and pools in future years.
  • work to transport students and their families to facilities where swimming is offered through the Connect Kids programs.
  • offer free sunscreen at State Park pools to help families stay safe in the sun and enjoy the outdoors.

Have all the Finger Lakes news from Finger Lakes News Radio delivered to your email every morning for FREE!  Sign up by clicking here.

Get the top stories on your radio 24/7 on Finger Lakes News Radio 96.3 and 1590, WAUB and 106.3 and 1240, WGVA, and on Finger Lakes Country, 96.1/96.9/101.9/1570 WFLR.