SOS Sink or Swim named USA Swimming Foundation Local Partner

SOS Sink or Swim was recently named an official Local Partner with USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative to help save children's lives through swim lessons. Through charitable donations to SOS Sink or Swim and partner support, more than 3,500 area children have received free swimming lessons in Talbot County since SOS began in 2014.

SOS Sink or Swim was recently named an official Local Partner with USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative to help save children's lives through swim lessons. Through charitable donations to SOS Sink or Swim and partner support, more than 3,500 area children have received free swimming lessons in Talbot County since SOS began in 2014.

SOS Sink or Swim was recently named an official Local Partner with USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative to help save children's lives through swim lessons. Through Make a Splash, the USA Swimming Foundation partners with learn-to-swim providers, community-based water safety advocates, and national organizations to provide swimming lessons and educate children and their families on the importance of learning how to swim.

To qualify for the partnership, SOS Sink or Swim was vetted based on its recruitment and selection process of participants and the number of children served; how the program directly benefits children who would not otherwise receive the opportunity to learn to swim; and how SOS identifies participants based on need. Additionally, SOS Sink or Swim was noted for its adherence to USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash Local Partner best practice standards—which includes a minimum of 4 hours of in-water instruction and a maximum 6:1 student-to-instructor ratio.

According to a Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine report, formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%. Additionally, a 2017 USA Swimming Foundation study reports 79% of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little-to-no swimming ability.

SOS Sink or Swim’s 2018 swim season included free, two-week swimming lessons offered at the Bay Hundred Community Pool in St. Michaels, Md., and the George Murphy Community Pool in Easton, Md. Through charitable donations to SOS Sink or Swim and partner support, more than 3,500 area children have received free swimming lessons in Talbot County since SOS began in 2014. The program is docked at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, with CBMM serving as its fiscal sponsor, and administered by the Talbot County Department of Parks & Recreation.

The USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative is a national child-focused water safety campaign, which aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim. The USA Swimming Foundation has invested millions of dollars to provide grants to qualified Local Partner learn-to-swim programs, to spread national awareness, and to bring together strategic partners to end drowning. To date, more than 6 million children have received the lifesaving gift of swim lessons through the USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash Local Partner network, comprised of more than 850 qualified lesson providers across the nation. To learn more, visit usaswimmingfoundation.org.

SOS Sink or Swim is dedicated to ensuring every child on the Eastern Shore has the ability to swim and knows how to be safe in the water, with a new five-year plan to grow its commitment beyond Talbot County and to service adults. Donations to SOS help keep the program free for all participants, with as little as $50 sponsoring two weeks of free swimming lessons and making a difference for a child in need. To learn more, or to donate to SOS, visit sossinkorswim.org, or send your contribution to SOS Sink or Swim, 606A N. Talbot Street, Ste 109, St. Michaels, MD 21663.

SOS Sink or Swim presents raffle prizes to winner

Jo Batters, left, is presented with raffle prizes by Chesapeake Trading Company owner Lynda Boettner. Chesapeake Trading Company hosted the SOS Sink or Swim raffle again this year, dedicating window space throughout the summer to help showcase SOS’s mission of teaching children to swim and be safe in the water. To learn more, visit sossinkorswim.org.

Jo Batters, left, is presented with raffle prizes by Chesapeake Trading Company owner Lynda Boettner. Chesapeake Trading Company hosted the SOS Sink or Swim raffle again this year, dedicating window space throughout the summer to help showcase SOS’s mission of teaching children to swim and be safe in the water. To learn more, visit sossinkorswim.org.

SOS Sink or Swim recently wrapped up its summer raffle by presenting its prizes to winner Jo Batters. The raffle was hosted by Chesapeake Trading Company in St. Michaels, Md., who devoted a display window for the fourth consecutive year to encourage support of SOS.

This year’s display featured a crab pot filled with gift certificates and items donated by businesses throughout St. Michaels. In addition to a program T-shirt and champagne provided by SOS, prizes were donated by Hambleton Inn; Theo’s Steak, Sides & Spirits; Carpenter Street Saloon; Gourmet By the Bay; Justine’s Ice Cream Parlour; Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond; Come By Chance; Chesapeake Bay Outfitters; Chesapeake Trading Company; Patriot Cruises; and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

“SOS Sink or Swim is made possible through support from residents, foundations and local businesses,” said SOS Executive Council President Libby Moose. “We are grateful to our community and give special thanks to Chesapeake Trading Company for helping to spread the message that swimming is a life skill that all ages should master.”

SOS Sink or Swim’s mission is to ensure that all children know how to swim and be safe in the water by providing them with free swim lessons. Partnering with Talbot County Parks & Rec, three two-week sessions are provided each summer for children ages 18 months to 18 years. This year, a limited pilot program for adults was added. A total of 1,175 lessons were provided this past summer, bringing the number of free lessons provided by SOS since 2014 to 3,875.

SOS Sink or Swim is docked at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. To learn more, or to donate to SOS, visit sossinkorswim.org or send a check to: SOS Sink or Swim, 606A N. Talbot Street, Ste 109, St. Michaels, MD 21663.

Spiegel, Manning join SOS Executive Council

SOS Sink or Swim, the local nonprofit dedicated to teaching children how to swim and be safe in the water, has elected Marianne Spiegel to its Executive Council and Dr. Sherry Manning as a founding member emerita.

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Marianne Spiegel, a resident of St. Michaels, Md., and McLean, Va., joins SOS with a long-time love of sailing and swimming. Professionally, she has served on the staffs of Senators Hubert Humphrey and Dick Clark, Congressmen Bill Gray and Howard L. Berman, and for the U.S. State Department's policy planning staff. In that time, Spiegel worked on sanctions to end apartheid in South Africa and white minority rule in Rhodesia, and also to end U.S. shipments of helicopters and nerve gas components to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. She also worked for disaster relief and recovery programs in the African Sahel and on restructuring U.S. aid throughout the world to reach subsistence farmers.

Dr. Sherry Manning helped start SOS Sink or Swim in 2014, when the organization was founded under the auspices of the Miles River Yacht Club Foundation. She is a former college president; the founder, CEO, and Chair, retired, of ECCI, one of the largest telecommunications firms serving colleges, universities, and independent schools in America; and a member of the Board of Trustees of McDaniel College.

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Manning and her husband, Charles, are involved with residential, commercial, and hospitality real estate investments, including the Hambleton Inn in St. Michaels, Md. They are the parents of three grown children and the grandparents of six, all swimmers. She will be assisting the SOS Executive Council in establishing an endowment to ensure that future generations of children on the Eastern Shore will continue to have the opportunity to learn to swim.

SOS’s 2018 swim season is now underway, with lessons going on at both the Bay Hundred Community Pool in St. Michaels and the George Murphy Community Pool in Easton. Since its founding, more than 2,700 area children have received free swimming lessons thanks to generous support of the SOS program. The program is docked at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, with CBMM serving as its fiscal sponsor, and administered by the Department of Talbot County Parks & Recreation.

To learn more, or to donate to SOS, visit sossinkorswim.org or send a check to: SOS Sink or Swim, 606A N. Talbot Street, Ste 109, St. Michaels, MD 21663.

Registration now open for free swimming lessons

Free swimming lessons are available this summer for children 18 months to 15 years old at two Talbot County pools, thanks to SOS Sink or Swim and the St. Michaels Community Center.

This is the fourth summer SOS is offering these free lessons. This year’s goal is to teach 1,000 local children to swim and be safe in the water.

“Talbot County is surrounded by 600 miles of water, and it is vital that our children know how to swim, for their safety and for fun,” SOS President Elizabeth C. Moose said. “Swimming is a lifetime skill that can save a life.”

Three, two-week swimming sessions will be held at the George Murphy Community Pool in Easton and at the Bay Hundred Community Pool in St. Michaels. Lessons are free, but registration is required, with an initial deadline of June 12. Deadlines for the second two sessions are July 3 and July 17. Registration forms can be found at www.sossinkorswim.org, at the St. Michaels Community Center or through the Talbot County Parks and Recreation Department.

For more information, contact the St. Michaels Community Center at 410-745-6073. All applications must be mailed to the St. Michaels Community Center, P.O. Box 354, St. Michaels, Maryland 21663.

SOS recently re-structured, with the non-profit Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum coming aboard as its fiscal sponsor. To help fund SOS’s mission to teach children how to swim and be safe in the water, go to www.sossinkorswim.org and click “SUPPORT,” or send a check to SOS Sink or Swim, 606A North Talbot Street, Suite 109, St. Michaels, MD, 21663.

SOS invites contributors to stay home

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In the middle of the busy spring social season on the Eastern Shore, SOS Sink or Swim, the local charity dedicated to teaching children how to swim and be safe in the water, wants you to stay home and relax. SOS is not holding a fundraising event this year, so all donations can go straight to teaching more life-saving skills to children.

“For the last few years, we have raised money by inviting people to dinners and holding auctions,” said SOS Development Chair Bev Pratt. “This year, rather than paying for dinner and an event, all of the donations we receive will go into the pool with the children. As one of our 7-year-old swim graduates so smartly reminded us, ‘If you swim, you don’t drown.’”

Since it was founded in 2014, SOS, working with its administrative partner, the St. Michaels Community Center, has taught more than 1,400 local children how to swim. The goal this year is to teach another 1,000 children. Three, two-week sessions will again offer swimming lessons for children aged 18 months through 15 years at the George Murphy Community Pool in Easton and the Bay Hundred Community Pool in St. Michaels. Lessons are open to all, but registration is required. Registration forms are available for download at www.sossinkorswim.org.

SOS recently re-structured, with the non-profit Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum coming aboard as is its fiscal sponsor. To donate to SOS, visit www.sossinkorswim.org or send a check to: SOS Sink or Swim, 606A N. Talbot Street, Ste 109, St. Michaels, MD 21663.

SOS Sink or Swim Forms New Organization to Teach Children to Swim

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The Miles River Yacht Club Foundation’s highly-successful SOS Sink or Swim program that sponsors free swimming lessons for area children is being spun off on its own to ensure its continued and sustained growth. Over the last three years, SOS has funded lessons for 1,400 children at two Talbot County pools.

“The MRYC Foundation identified a need in the community and began funding swimming lessons for local children in 2014. The response to SOS has been so enthusiastic that we realized it was time to form a new entity that would focus solely on the mission of teaching all our children how to swim and be safe in the water,” said Elizabeth C. Moose, the Foundation’s chairman.

To help achieve that goal, the Chesapeake Maritime Museum has agreed to be the Fiscal Sponsor for SOS. This agreement will allow SOS to focus on its core mission, while CBMM will provide much needed technical and administrative resources.

“We welcome SOS and share its commitment to serving the youth of our region,” CBMM President Kristen L. Greenaway said. “We are dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation of Chesapeake Bay stewards and working with SOS fits perfectly into that mission.”

MRYC Foundation Board Members, under the direction of then-chairman Dr. Sherry Manning, started SOS in 2014 as a way of countering accidental drowning in a region surrounded by water. The members were moved by the deaths of three area children who drowned after slipping into a creek so they decided to take action. The first goal was to raise enough money to pay for swimming lessons for 100 children at the Bay Hundred Pool in St. Michaels.

The Foundation partnered with the St. Michaels Community Center’s Bay Hundred Swim Kids program to administer SOS. Before that first summer was over, the Foundation funded lessons for 275 children. Board members immediately realized they had found a greater need than anticipated.

Fundraisers have been held and generous supporters have contributed donations as the program has expanded. In 2015, another 500 local children were taught how to swim. In 2016, with the help of the Talbot County Parks and Recreation Department, the program was expanded to the George Murphy Pool in Easton and instructors taught another 900 Talbot County children how to swim. The 2017 season will again be held at the two community pools. Registration will begin in May and the goal is to raise at least $50,000 to teach 1,000 more children.

It costs just $50 to teach a child the life-saving skill of swimming.

For more information about how to contribute to SOS or register children for this summer, go to www.SOSsinkorswim.org or mail checks to SOS Sink or Swim, 606A North Talbot Street, Suite 109, St. Michaels, Maryland, 21663.