Simone Manuel

Simone Manuel, Olympic Swimmer

The 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention child injury report stated that drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages one to four years old. Since the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were issued mid-March, 18 children under age five have died from drowning in Florida.

Additional statistics provided by the National Prevention of Drowning Alliance reported that in 2020, 3,500 children will likely die as a result of drowning in the U.S. and 88% of all child drownings occur with at least one adult present.

Professionals Serving With a Purpose (P-SWAP) owns a responsibility to lower those stats. The organization understands children love being in, on and around water, especially during the summer months and especially during these uncertain times. P-SWAP has taken the initiative to apply water safety and drowning prevention skills and further provide preventive strategies to combat what is referred to as the, “water whispers.”

On Friday, May 15, P-SWAP hosted virtual International Water Safety Day LIVE Kahoot Challenge with hundreds of children from across south Florida. Additionally, 2016 Rio US Olympic Games Medalists’, Simone Manuel (Gold), Brianna McNeal (Gold), Nia Ali (Silver), and Kristi Castlin (Bronze), and Teddy Bridgewaters, NFL Carolina Panthers debuted and competed in a live Kahoot broadcast.

Local civic and education leaders in attendance include Dr. Steve Gallon, III -MDCPS School Board Vice-Chair; Dr. Linda Brown,-X-Spurt Evaluation; Connie Harvey-American Red Cross Centennial Program; Terry Wright-Owner Wright and Young Funeral Home; Patrise Tyson-President of Miami Black Nurses Association.

The presence of Simone Manuel was of added significance as she was a standout in Rio and is a cultural trailblazer. In Simone’s first swim at the Rio Olympics, she teamed up with Abbey Weitzeil, Dana Vollmer, and Katie Ledecky to earn a silver medal and new American record (3:31.89) in the 4x100m relay, behind the Aussie women who broke the world record (3:30.65).

On Day six of the Rio Olympics, Simone made history by becoming the first Black woman to win a gold medal in swimming. And she did it in a new Olympic Record and in a tie with Canadian, Penny Oleksiak, in the 100m freestyle with the time of 52.70.

Manuel followed up her gold with a silver medal in the 50m Free, just two one hundredths of second behind gold medal winner, Pernille Blume of Denmark. In the same finals session, she proceeded to help team USA once again in the 4x100m medley relay, anchoring in a split of 52.43 and touching the wall first to earn her 4th and final medal of the games.

On July 24, 2018, the day before the 2018 summer US nationals were set to start, Simone announced in a press conference that she had signed with suit company TYR. This was the first major sponsorship deal that Simone had announced.

An accomplished athlete who also earned seven medals in 2019 at the World Championships, Manuel was later awarded the US Female Swimmer of the Year’s, Swammy Award.

“I want to thank Simone Manuel, Brianna McNeal, Nia Ali , Kristi Castlin and NFL Player Carolina Panthers Teddy Bridgewater for unselfishly offering their time to this event,” said Bridget McKinney, president of P-SWAP. “We engaged over 500 children in a Kahoot game challenge and provided critical  water safety skills through an interactive virtual learning experience.”

While most of the aforementioned cases occurred in residential pools, the recent ones included a near-by pond, a boat ramp, and a bathtub. In most of the cases, the child gained access to a residential pool undetected by family or friends. Because most drownings can be avoided, these Olympians will helped get the message out to further reduce the drowning rates.

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