Unfortunately, drowning has been a neglected public health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes for children 1 to 14 years old. Research shows that there are two key barriers to entry that prevent children from learning to swim: fear of the water and lack of parental encouragement. Believe it or not, Michael was among those children who had a fear of the water. However, he was able to overcome that fear because of his parents’ commitment to enroll him in a water safety course and the instructor of the program had a unique approach. Today, we are proud to offer this same water safety program to a much larger audience, led by the very same instructor who taught Michael how to swim through the Foundation’s signature program – im.
If you are interested in swim lessons near you please click the link below to find where we offer our im program. If we currently don’t have a program near you, please complete the im program grant so we can bring our life-saving program to your Boys & Girls Club members and Special Olympics athletes. Our goal is for program participants to be comfortable in and around water, advance their swimming skills, set and attain personal goals, and have good overall health.See a full list of our clubs and teams
Around the world, half a million people drown every year. More than half of those victims are children. im safe provides each participant with the opportunity — and encouragement — to become comfortable, confident, and safer in the water.
im safe is a pre-beginner water safety program that provides entry-level swimming instruction. It is the official learn-to-swim program of the Michael Phelps Swim School and was used by Michael himself to develop his skills and confidence as a swimmer.
im safe offers water instruction and safety certification, as required, to ensure that all im program participants are qualified for other water activities. im safe has three levels: Get Comfortable, Get Moving and Get Strong. Most participants will start in either Get Comfortable or Get Moving. In order for participants to be certified in the water, they must demonstrate proficiency in the necessary skills in a Water Safety Review. This consists of swimming from one side of the pool to the other, treading water, and other basic but important skills.
The Special Olympics Young Athletes im program is about the initial introduction to the swimming experience. The environment and instructors need to be warm and inviting. Because of the short attention span of young children, moving quickly through skills activities will keep the class interesting. The manual accompanies a video, which is translated in six languages, found at www.specialolympics.com/young athletes.
im fun is designed to keep water-safe participants of all ages and skill levels active in the pool, and to improve their in-water skills and confidence.
im fun creates an exciting, but structured environment that provides instructions and rules for some of Michael’s favorite pool games. From Marco Polo to Poison Pool Toss, these activities are designed to keep participants interested and engaged while developing specific water skills.
im fun is open only to participants who have successfully completed the Water Safety Review.
im fast lets program participants who have successfully completed the Water Safety Review learn the sport of competitive swimming and gives them access to high-quality, organized instructional training.
Through a coordinated training regimen of both in-pool skills instruction and exercises, experienced swim instructors further develop the swimmers’ overall fitness levels and help them reach their fullest potential. im fast’s has three skill levels — Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each level focuses on the development of individual strokes, starts, turns, lap swimming, and racing.
im healthy participants will learn the basics of healthy living, including eating right, emotional wellness, and being physically active. This interactive health and wellness program was developed by the health experts at Nemours’ KidsHealth.org.
im healthy complements the swimming components of im safe, im fun, and im fast by showing participants how a healthy body can better achieve fitness goals. Participants will learn how to make good choices about what they eat, how much they exercise, and how they handle stressful situations. The im healthy program’s 8 lessons are conducted in a group setting. Each lesson includes an instructor’s guide and participant handouts for use during the lessons and/or at home.
im successful participants will learn how to identify and achieve goals. This program was developed by the health and behavioral experts at Nemours’ KidsHealth.org. im successful is based on the simple but effective Dream, Plan, Reach strategy that Michael has used throughout his life.
Using the Dream, Plan, Reach approach, im successful encourages bold, long-term goals while acknowledging that patience, planning, and persistence are integral to success. im successful also covers goals beyond those in the pool, such as improving school performance, learning a new skill, or getting along better with a sibling. Achieving a modest goal can serve as a blueprint and confidence-builder.
The im successful program’s 8 lessons are conducted in a group setting. Each lesson includes an instructor’s guide and participant handouts for use during the lessons and/or at home.