Swimming at Horizons


At Horizons Greater Washington, swimming lessons are a large part of our curriculum. We work to ensure that every child leaves our program knowing how to swim; a life-saving skill.

Nearly half of all Americans are not proficient swimmers

According to the American Red Cross, only 56 percent of Americans can perform five skills considered to be essential for swimming survival. These include treading water for one minute, exiting the pool without the use of a ladder, re-orienting and swimming to a wall, resurfacing in deep water and swimming 25 yards. 

Swimming at Horizons

At Horizons Greater Washington, students swim four days each week at our Maret School and Norwood School locations, and three days each week at our St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School location. Each student swims for about an hour, with 30 minutes of swim lessons and 30 minutes of free swimming. Our program progression is based on the American Red Cross lesson. We also monitor each student using our own metrics to track success.


Our student teacher ratio is 5:1 and classes are led by veteran, experienced teachers who work side-by-side with assistant teachers.

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Horizons inspires students to take on new challenges by giving them the opportunity to explore music, theatre, art, and swimming – a cornerstone skill in our daily program.

Swimming is a life­saving skill that many low-­income children fail to acquire. Nearly 70 percent of African American children and 58 percent of Hispanic children have low or no swimming ability, putting them at a higher risk of drowning. In predominately minority communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average. Swimming is a life-­saving skill, builds self­confidence, and a desire to achieve beyond the Horizons classroom. At Horizons, learning to swim:

  • Encourages attention to detail and commitment to a goal;

  • Teaches resilience and strategies to overcome fears and obstacles;

  • Inspires children to adopt a healthy lifestyle;

  • Introduces a competitive sport;

  • Teaches skills for summer employment; and

  • Is FUN and promotes a love for and engagement in Horizons. 

DC on Drowning

According to the Center for Disease Control, there were approximately 3,533 drowning deaths between 2005 and 2009. This equates to approximately 10 drowning deaths every day.

Minorities are at a greater risk of drowning. Lack of access to pools and quality lessons are contributing factors to the decreased rate of swim skills among minorities. 

While 51 percent of white adults can complete the swimming skills recommended by the Red Cross, only 33 percent of African-Americans can complete the skills. 

The CDC found that learning and maintaining swimming skills is a major factor in decreasing drowning, especially among minority groups. 

Sponsors of our Swim Program

We are thankful for our partners, who help make Horizons Greater Washington's swim program a success. Thanks to Norwood School, Maret School's Girls on the Run, the Swiss Embassy and the Kara Kennedy Fund.


Horizons Greater Washington in a 501(c)(3) organization operating in Washington, DC. Copyright © 2014 Horizons Greater Washington.

Our work would not be possible without the generous support of individuals like yourself. Support Horizons DC today!