Our Work

Initiative to End Child Drowning

March 6, 2024

Drowning is the single leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4.
The Chuck and Ernestina Kreutzkamp Initiative to End Child Drowning

Drowning is the single leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4. It can happen quickly and quietly — even with an adult nearby, even with a lifeguard present, and in as little as a few inches of water.

But drowning is preventable, and our goal is to eliminate drowning among children ages 1 to 4.

As part of a team focused on enhancing water safety for children, we at the CEK Child Drowning Prevention Initiative are proud of the work we have accomplished.

In 2021, we established a core group of advisors, gathering leading authorities from the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control, and Seattle Children’s Hospital. We also built a coalition that includes influential voices in water safety and parent advocates including country music star Granger Smith and his wife Amber; Nicole Hughes; and JoAnn Barnett, founder of Infant Swimming Resources.

We shifted perceptions so industry professionals look to us not as adversaries, but as collaborators. Three-time Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines teamed up with us and PHTA’s Step Into Swim™ to encourage them to become Water Safety Champions through our new multitiered, national program that enhances consumer water safety education in a positive and proactive way.

On the consumer front, we launched a signature campaign that aims to end unsafe marketing practices in the sales of flotation devices. The first-of-its-kind rallying cry to unite parents and loved ones, the campaign has gathered more than 5,000 signatures with the next step being a presentation to major retailers with specific requests to change the misleading messaging that has been linked by many parents to the tragedy of their own children’s drowning.

We also launched a "Layers of Protection" section of the NDPA website featuring a custom-produced animated video, individual web pages for each layer of protection, and a new swim lesson decision tool.

In collaboration with the NDPA, we held a first-of-its-kind national summit in 2022. More than 40 industry leaders and expert scholars attended the two-day gathering, representing some of the most prestigious organizations across the country.

In 2023, we organized an all-day livestream to promote the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson,” an event that offers hundreds of aquatic centers, swim schools, and water parks the chance to join together and focus on drowning prevention through swimming lessons. Live interviews were held with organizations such as Safe Kids Worldwide, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, the U.S. Marine Corps, American Red Cross, USA Swimming, the United States Swim School Association, and several Olympians, including four-time gold medalist Ryan Murphy, two-time gold medalist Colin Jones, and three-time gold medalist and Olympic Hall of Fame member Rowdy Gaines.


As a result of the Childhood Drowning National Research Summit hosted in September 2022, exciting developments have been made in the area of research, including a new drowning research program announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham Youth Safety Lab, Director Dr. David Schwebel will be leading a comprehensive study of the efficacy of self-survival swim lessons.

Another m​ajor awareness effort​, the End the Misinformation Campaign, led to a new partnership with the Life Jacket Association to address misleading marketing language on flotation devices, the flotation aide approval process, and how to encourage adults and teenagers to wear flotation devices when boating or swimming in open water.​ As a result of the End the Misinformation campaign in 2023 — ​w​hich received thousands of signatures from concerned citizens​ — Walmart and other large retailers changed their language on flotation devices.​

Most recently, the NDPA has been chosen as the official operator of the first U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan, which encompasses a range of prevention strategies and will act as a roadmap for collective action to help put an end to preventable drowning tragedies.

Whether it’s leveraging meaningful partnerships with nationally renowned organizations or breaking through the noise to reach pool and spa professionals, positioning ourselves not as adversaries, but as collaborators, we are committed to sharing critical information about water safety and drowning prevention with the world.