White Plains Offers Free Swim Lessons After Madoff Drowning

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White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach spearheaded the swimming initiative that was discussed Monday at White Plains High School. Photo Credit: Patrick Stapleton

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Several White Plains organizations are coming together throughout March to teach children how to swim after the drowning death of White Plains resident Tyler Madoff in July.

“We’ve turned tragedy into triumph,” Frank Williams Jr., executive director of the White Plains Youth Bureau, said Monday at a news conference for Jump In and Swim Month. “We want to make sure that our young people are protected, healthy and safe. What better way to make sure that our young people are healthy, protected and safe than by teaching them how to swim?”

Madoff, 15, a Scarsdale High School junior, was presumed dead a few weeks after he was washed into the ocean July 4 during a hiking and kayaking trip in Hawaii.

Free swimming and water-based activities will be offered to White Plains residents of all ages at White Plains High School, White Plains Recreation and Parks, and the White Plains YWCA and YMCA starting March 4 and ending March 30.

Mayor Thomas Roach, who spearheaded the initiative, called swimming a gift that will last a lifetime.

“It’s something that’s essential,” said Roach, standing next to the White Plains High School pool. “You never know what will engage a particular child – swimming or football or painting or chess. The more that you present to children and young people, the better opportunity they have to shine.”

Statistics presented at the news conference included that 40 percent of Caucasians, 50 percent of Hispanics and 70 percent of African-Americans do not know how swim, which Williams would like to see change.

“This will provide every White Plains child an opportunity to develop swimming skills so that we don’t have to revisit another swimming tragedy,” Williams said. “We know that a child who can swim is going to be successful in life.”

A list of all the activities scheduled for Jump In and Swim Month is available online.

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