Student on the Swim (SOS)

Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14. With your support, we can help prevent tragedy in our community by teaching our children how to be safe around the water.

Students Learning to Swim

Program Overview

Students on Wall of Swimming Pool

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Virginia Beach students are learning how to swim with Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation's Students on the Swim (SOS) program – a free program for second graders in our schools. This innovative program is educating, enlightening, and, most importantly, safeguarding second-grade students in Virginia Beach.

Tragically, drowning is ​​the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14. Our coastal environment can be dangerous. Parks & Recreation partnered with Virginia Beach City Public Schools to pilot this water safety education program designed for second-grade classes.

The free program was launched with students from Title I schools at Newtown Elementary and Luxford Elementary. Students are transported to a nearby community recreation center where they learn different aspects of water safety, including the ability to learn to swim. Children experience a two-week American Red Cross-certified program, with a total of 10 lessons that incorporate the Standards of Learning (SOLs).​

Make a Donation

The SOS program is being funded by generous donors, including Acoustical Sheetmetal and Swimways. This program is fully dependent on the generosity of civic-minded individuals and the strong philanthropic nature of fellow citizens.

We are asking for your support to help us teach children to swim. For only $2,000, your organization can fund a school. Or $500 can fund a class or $100 can fund​ a row of students in the class. Each student, along with the instruction they receive from certified instructors, also receives a swim bag to carry their swimsuit and personal belongings. Donations can be made online below or by mailing a check with our printable donation form.

Special thanks to Councilmember Rosemary Wilson and Dr. Sheila Magula, Deputy Superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools, for their vision, leadership, and support.​


​​​​"I was very impressed with the professional manner in which the [Students on the Swim] program was conducted. The students were well-behaved and appeared to be very attentive to the instructors. What impressed me the most was the level of improvement of the student’s skills over the three-day period.

I saw students that went from abject fear of even blowing bubbles to confidently pushing off and gliding across the pool with their faces in the water. What was most evident was that they were enjoying the experience, which is half the battle with the beginning swimmer. I am very proud of the City of Virginia Beach and the Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation department."

- Dick Whetstone | Nationally-ranked competitive swimmer; former American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, American Heart Association/ARC CPR instructor, Virginia Beach Rescue Squad (Plaza) Certified EMT and PADI Certified Scuba Instructor