Join The City of Detroit, Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and Detroit Riverfront Conservancy for a Rare Inside Look at the Swim In The D Program


DETROIT - In a united effort to expand free swim lessons and increase water safety among Detroit youth, a new program has been collaboratively launched by the City of Detroit’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. The Swim in the D initiative kicked off June 21 with the goal of teaching more than 500 Detroit children to swim and to help them become more confident and safer in and around the water.

Registration quickly filled just hours after the new program was announced in May, but unfortunately the storms and flooding that hit the region in July caused damage to pools that were going to be used to deliver the program.  The partners pivoted to find alternate solutions that would still allow for the program to move forward in a different way and benefit the community. Partners created an alternate solution where those 504 registered youth could still learn how to swim and be safer around water. Those students were split into smaller classes of around 27 students and are now attending 5-week courses throughout the fall and winter. Classes are held twice a week and it’s anticipated that all 504 participants will complete the program throughout the fall/winter.

Now, the partners in the Swim in the D initiative are inviting media to get an inside look at how the program is going. Each partner in the program will have representatives on-site to speak with media and to provide interviews. Parents and children of the program will also be available.

The City of Detroit’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy hope you will consider help telling this collaborative, inspiring and visually-interesting story about an initiative that will provide Detroit youth with life-saving skills. 

Mark your calendars, RSVP and join us!

When: Monday, November 29, 2021

Time: Join us at 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Where: Pool at Adams Butzel Recreation Complex, 10500 Lyndon St, Detroit, MI 48238

RSVP: to Jeremy Thomas, phone - 313-938-5078; email - [email protected] 


Studies have shown that 70 percent of Detroit children have little to no swimming ability, which demonstrates a dire need to reduce water-related injuries and drowning deaths. The Swim in the D program looks different than originally intended when it was announced back in May, but the important thing is that 504 Detroit youth are still receiving valuable swimming and water safety instruction.

“For the city of Detroit to be able to offer free swim lessons to kids citywide is very important, said Brad Dick, Group Executive, Services & Infrastructure. “I learned to swim as a child, and if kids learn the basics, it will prevent unnecessary drowning deaths. Access to swim education is paramount and we are excited to start and grow this program in the coming years.”

The Swim in the D program includes:

  • Free swimming lessons for Detroit residents age 6 to 17 (5-week sessions offered)
    • Sessions started in October and will continue until all 504 students have made it through the program.
    • Classes are one-hour long, twice a week and offered on Mondays/Saturdays; pre-registration was required
    • Participants are grouped by age and ability with no session having with around 28 students per class.
    • COVID-19 safety protocol are followed with guidance from federal, state, and local health officials.
  • Swim lessons and water safety education are taught by certified swim coaches.
  • Every child receives a free swim bag complete with swimsuit, t-shirt and swim cap.

The program also includes pre- and post-program skills assessments and parent satisfaction surveys to help ensure the effectiveness of the program.

“Metroparks is thrilled to collaborate in a program that helps meet a real community need, teaches an important lifelong skill, increases access to a healthy, fun recreation activity, and helps us more equitably serve the city,” said Huron-Clinton Metroparks Director Amy McMillan. “This is a great example of what we can accomplish working together.”

The Metroparks and Detroit Riverfront Conservancy each provided $25,000 to support the cost of supplies and equipment while the city’s Parks and Recreation Department will run the registration process and provide the lesson instruction.

“We are excited that this program will help many Detroit children gain the skills they need to enjoy spending time in the water safely,” said Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. “We are proud to partner with the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department and Huron-Clinton Metroparks on this important life-saving and life-changing initiative.”    

About the City of Detroit Parks & Recreation Division

The City of Detroit Parks & Recreation Division is one of Michigan’s largest parks divisions managing 11 recreation centers and nearly 300 parks within the City of Detroit, golf courses, and offering year-round opportunities for kids of all ages to play and enjoy Detroit. 

About Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority

One of America’s premier metropolitan park systems, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks have served the people of Southeast Michigan since 1940. Managed by the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, the Metroparks are made up of 13 properties in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. Available activities include fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, nature study, biking, golf, winter sports and more. The Metroparks also provide educational resources on science, nature, history and the environment. Learn more at

About the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 with the mission to develop public access to Detroit’s riverfront and serve as an anchor for economic development.  As the permanent stewards of the Riverwalk and the Dequindre Cut, the Conservancy is responsible for raising the funds needed for construction, operation, maintenance, security and programming of the public spaces located along the riverfront.  The Conservancy’s ultimate vision is to develop five-and-a-half miles of riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge on the west to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle.  Visit for more information.

Swim in the D