SWIMkids USA celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer.
Lana Whitehead “dove in” with a family-owned business on Guadalupe near the Price Road Loop 101 Freeway back in 1971 and has taught thousands of kids how to swim safely since.
Across the county, 3,400 people die by drowning every year.
And, according to the group Stop Drowning Now, drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4.
In Maricopa County, an average of 14 infants 4 and younger died by drowning from 2008 to 2018.
After the tragic drowning deaths of two of her friend’s children, Whitehead vowed to dedicate her life to water safety and drowning prevention.
She began experimenting with giving her infant son swim lessons, then developed a baby swim class for the YMCA.
“I found that the experience of being with a baby in the water was enjoyable for both the parent and the child and that it was a wonderful bonding experience,” she said. “I discovered there are many emotional and physical benefits when a child learns to swim.”
SWIMkids USA is a unique “swim and gym” center that also offers tumbling-for-toddlers.
“Through an atmosphere of loving respect and guidance, children build confidence and self-worth. They are encouraged and seen as successful no matter what level of skill they have,” she said.
She stressed her teachers are certified in the SWIMkids method, CPR, First Aid and Lifeguarding as well as in “Swim Whisperer” techniques, and work with children who have special needs.
Whitehead has written five books and lectures about her swimming skills philosophy.
She has been invited to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, World Baby Congress, National Drowning Prevention Alliance and was a featured speaker at the 2012 International Aquatic Conference. ′