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A warm San Diego spring day was the perfect setting to kick off a safe summer season at the largest annual drowning prevention event of the year on April 29 with April Pool’s Day, hosted by the City of San Diego and San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation (SDJGF). This event brought together more than 500 community members and dozens of local organizations in an effort to prevent drowning and promote water safety awareness.

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There are many opportunities for involvement with SDJGF, from donating and volunteering to participating in a drowning prevention program. Visit for more information.

The month of May was proclaimed as Water Safety Awareness Month by the City of San Diego at the April Pool’s Day event, which was held at Memorial Park Pool in Logan Heights and kicked off a variety of water safety programs and events that began in May, continuing throughout the summer season.

The SDJGF also made a major announcement at the event, sharing that the organization is changing its name to the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego, in an effort to focus on the organization’s core mission.

Photo courtesy of San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation
Photo courtesy of San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation

Attendees at April Pool’s Day received lifejacket training and 60 community members received free lifejackets. In addition, the San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation and City of San Diego provided swimming lesson assessments, CPR training, and backyard pool safety education which focused on the use of proper fencing and barriers of protection, and the importance of having a water watcher.

The April Pool’s Day event offered community members an introduction to the many water safety and swimming programs available throughout the year, including programs available at Memorial Park Pool. Memorial Park Pool offers free swimming lessons during the spring season for community members and a free swimming lesson program for the adjacent Logan Elementary School students, provided by the SDJGF’s Learn to Swim For Free program. This program also provides lessons and poolside CPR training at City Heights Swim Center, Colina Del Sol Pool, Martin Luther King Jr. Pool and the Vista Terrace Pool. Registration is currently open at each of the pool locations.

A Lifeguard Training Program through SDJGF was recently completed at Memorial Park Pool, with 29 graduates who are currently applying to work for the Park and Recreation Department as summer pool guards. Memorial Park Pool swim team participants will receive scholarships this summer through an ongoing scholarship program for participation in the Junior Lifeguard Program at the beach via the SDJGF.

“Thanks to the swim lessons and other programs provided by SDJGF, local children from all areas and backgrounds can gain the skills needed to become a lifeguard one day,” said Julie McAdam Farr, SDJGF board member. “This is especially important for children who may not otherwise have the chance, resulting in a more diverse group within this esteemed and sought-after city profession.”

Photo courtesy of San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation
Photo courtesy of San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation

The SDJGF has provided a grant for Parent and Toddler Workshops at the City of San Diego pools, including Memorial Park Pool. The free two-hour workshops will take place throughout the summer season. Since drowning is the leading cause of accidental injury death for children one to four years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extra water safety attention is given to this age group. The event is an excellent water safety and swimming lesson introduction for parents, who learn tips and tricks necessary to keep their children safe.

Children from tots to teens are benefiting from the programs and services offered by SDJGF. The organization focuses on the complete water safety continuum, ensuring children receive progressive water safety education as they grow and mature. Toddlers are exposed to swimming instruction at the Parent and Toddler Workshops, and as they get older they can participate in swimming lessons and Junior Lifeguard programs. Many of these children go on to graduate from real trainings and attain certifications to work as pool guards and beach guards. Once they begin working, they become water safety experts who teach local kids and parents about water safety, continuing the cycle and keeping our community safe in and around the water.

One standout participant of the SDJGF program continuum is 16-year-old Richie Lopez from Logan Heights. Lopez learned to swim at Memorial Park Pool as a small child before joining the Memorial Park Pool recreational swim team and water polo team. He is currently on the swim and water polo team at Patrick Henry High School. Lopez recently graduated from the City of San Diego’s SAVE Lifeguard Training Program, and currently volunteers and hopes to soon become an employee at Memorial Park Pool. Lopez, who ultimately aspires to become a lifeguard, was one of the Memorial Park Pool scholarship recipients who was granted the opportunity to participate in the four-week Junior Lifeguard Program at the beach for the past three years. Next steps for Lopez toward his goals include obtaining his Water Safety Instructor certification so that he can teach children at Memorial Park Pool how to swim, including his niece and nephew.

Many of the pool guards and pool managers currently working at city pools have participated in the Junior Lifeguard Program, and many were scholarship recipients. A total of 46 percent of all pool managers and 44 percent of all pool guards are receiving scholarships through SDJGF.

There are many opportunities for involvement with SDJGF, from donating and volunteering to participating in a drowning prevention program. Visit for more information.

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