The Beaufort River Swim (BRS) is Beaufort County’s only open water swim race dedicated to raising awareness of swimming in the Lowcountry and funds for the YMCA of Beaufort County Learn to Swim program. The Learn to Swim program provides swim lessons to local children and adults who would not otherwise have the means or opportunity to learn to swim. In 2017 alone, the Y taught over 1,500 swim lessons with over half of these being a direct result of scholarship assistance provided by the Learn to Swim Program.
Beaufort County is comprised of over 50% water that includes beaches, rivers, ponds, marshes, and estuaries. “Many people move to our area just for access to water and boating, so it only makes sense to adequately prepare our residents to be safe and confident on the water,” said Lou Bergen, Y Aquatics Director.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years old. In ethnically diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average, according to a USA Swimming study. Additionally nearly six out of 10 African American and Hispanic/Latino children are unable to swim, nearly twice as many as their Caucasian counterparts.
“It is absolutely crucial that all kids know how to swim. There is water all around us, even if it’s as small as a bathtub,” added Bergen. “The Y teaches people of all ages and backgrounds that water should be fun, not feared, and this practice not only saves lives, it builds confidence.”