During this episode of Child Safety Source, we’re talking to expert swimmer and advocate for water safety Nate Tschohl! Nate has been around water his entire life. The son of a retired United States Coast Guard Captain, he grew up with a keen sense of the importance of water safety while living near the Great Lakes, Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Today, he is the proud co-founder of the International Water Safety Foundation.
As you can probably tell, Nate Tschohl has an obvious passion for drowning prevention. Among his many accomplishments, he works tirelessly to raise water safety awareness via the International Water Safety Foundation.
To this end, Nate spoke with Eric Lupton, Life Saver Pool Fence’s president. Together they discussed Nate’s experience, his work in spreading drowning awareness and more.
Watch the full video interview with Nate Tschohl:
Learning More about The International Water Safety Foundation
As we mentioned in the video, Nate is a man on a mission. His non-profit organization raises drowning awareness while teaching children the skills needed to survive in potentially unsafe water situations. At Life Saver Pool Fence, that’s certainly our kind of organization!
The International Water Safety Foundation aims to strengthen this public awareness and extol the benefits of learning to swim. They do this by providing basic water safety knowledge and swimming lessons, as well as CPR and safe rescue skills.
You can learn more about the International Water Safety Foundation by visiting their official homepage: http://drowningawareness.org/
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Below is a direct transcript of the Child Safety Source interview with Nate Tschohl from September 17th, 2018:
#39 Nate Tschohl
Eric Lupton: On the internet. How is it going man?
Nate Tschohl: It’s going great how are you Eric?
Eric: I am fantastic.
Nate: I see you are brighter than this morning.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, like you were just saying you’re a morning person, and I’m not.
Nate: Yeah, I feel like I’ve already put in three hours of good words today.
Eric: Yeah, I probably beat you on the other end, you know, I go to bed usually around between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m., that’s my sweet spot. But, I didn’t want anything, I like being up late when everybody else is sleeping and I get stuff done.
Nate: Yeah, I kind of feel the same way when I wake up early. I’m like well, no one else is working, you know, whatever.
Eric: Yeah, you get ahead right.
Nate: Exactly, that’s right.
Eric: Perfect, so you know, you’ve got a lot going on, and it’s all really cool stuff. So, you know, can you kind of give me your origin story? Kind of where you came from?
Nate: Yeah, I will give you the rundown. So, I’m from the swimming world, I’m from the competitive swimming landscape. I was a college swimmer, I swam in Old Dominion. I ended up coaching at Old Dominion for several years, I coached at local club swim team, I coached summer league team, I coached high school teams. I was really, really inundated down on the swimming side, you know. I ran swim lessons, I ran swimming pools, I learned how to fix pool pumps, I did all that stuff – and throughout this whole entire, you know, aquatics-based life that I was living, I never really knew that all these people were drowning, not only in America, but everywhere else. I had a good buddy who gave me a call who I used to coach with, Sean Anderson, who’s USA students diversity consultant I think for the last 10 years or so, but he started International Water Safe Today a long time ago. He said… he called me up and he said, ‘hey, did you know that like hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people are drowning every single year?’ and, I was like, ‘What! No, that’s crazy.’ And yeah, so that’s where it started, you know, I started helping him volunteering a lot of time; website work, all the social media, a lot of the marketing type of things, you know. You’re an unbelievable marketer or this podcast which is also on Facebook live, which also gets put on everywhere else. So…
Eric: Oh, thank you.
Nate: I think you know exactly what I’m talking about and then yeah, you know, international water safe today just got a little bit bigger, and a little bit bigger, and a little bit bigger. And so, that’s one of our… one of the main things that we do every single year is run International Work Safety Day. We have so many people communicating with us over the years about the day, asking for more help looking for funding, looking for donations of lifejackets, looking for the opportunity to become certified in lifeguarding or CPR, to become a trainer.
And so, can we kind of realize real quick the two things that we could help are the awareness, which we do with the day, and then focus on water safety education; and then secondly, we decided to build a fundraiser so that local initiatives, water safety initiatives could raise money for their own causes as well as raising money at the same time for a drowning intervention program in a country where child drowning is the leading killer of kids. So, our first program is swim Cambodia with Conrad who’s the main trustee, and they’ve been setting up the very first drowning intervention learn to swim program in Cambodia, where they’re losing six kids a day, you know, with a population that’s 25 times less than our population, which is kind of crazy.
So, they’re losing five times as many kids as we are with population that’s 25 times smaller, and obviously there’s a lot of reasons for that, right. I mean, there’s just so many. We turn a faucet on, we have water. So many people in all these countries have to go fetch their water, you know. They live on the water because that’s where the food source is, that’s where the water source is, that’s how you clean your dishes, that’s how you clean your clothes, all those things.
So, yeah so, that’s… we’re doing Tread-a-thons, you tread water for 2 hours, and you raise a bunch of money and you make a bunch of noise on the internet about what’s really going on. Like, people in the swimming community have no idea. When I call coaches up, I don’t mean to be blunt but I’m just… I just telling point-blank like, you don’t know this, but drowning is the leading killer of children in dozens of countries now, you know, we’ve fought in the communicable diseases for four decades with a ton of money, specifically malaria.
I don’t know how many of malaria nonprofits there are right now selling nuts, but it’s, I betcha it’s dozens, you know. They’re bringing in billions of dollars every year and water safety which is killing far more people, is bringing in basically nothing. I mean, we have Bloomberg that’s come in and put a huge chunk of money down and big props to him for getting the ball rolling, but I don’t know where… I don’t know where that money is going, you know. Other than hopefully the big project in Bangladesh, which is really the first scientifically evidence-based drowning intervention program that kind of finally proves that yes, some lessons save lives, right, which mean you… we already know that.
Eric: Of course, absolutely.
Nate: I’ve listened to a bunch of your shows and the public health nerds, as I like to call them, they always want to talk about the data and stuff like that. But, you know, for me, it’s like if you ask anyone in swimming like how do you prevent drownings, the answer is like, you teach them to swim, right. So yeah, there’s obviously other things; barriers of protection you guys do it better than everyone putting up pool fences and donating pool fences, and that’s a different Cambodia right, or Bangladesh or anywhere where they’re trying to corral these children.
Mom and dad are working, they’re going crazy, the supervision is not there and all of a sudden, you have a two-year-old walk off and now they’re in the water, you got sixty seconds in there and they’re dead. So, it’s uh… it’s a frightening problem, you know. I say in my videos we’re in the infancy of awareness where in an infancy of raising funds, where this is the beginning which is crazy, because it’s 2018 and we’re finally just … You have one of the first podcasts about safety to world, it’s mind boggling.
Eric: Yeah, I mean, maybe the first, actually, which is great, which you’re right, you’re right about that being crazy. Because, I assumed even knowing how small this is, that there had to be another one, there had to be something else going on, you know.
Nate: Yeah, sure
Eric: And, there’s just not like it don’t exist, you know.
Nate: I think Rick Kaufman
Nate: Rick Hoffman’s got one now, and I’m super excited about that.
Eric: He did mind and then after he did mine, he said I can do that, you know. You know, I’m like, if I can do it, anyone can do it.
Nate: There’s so many people that need to get the message out.
Eric: Oh, it’s awesome. I’m so excited by him.
Eric: Yeah, me too. I mean, there’s just… there’s just too many people to talk to, right.
Eric: Absolutely, so I mean you started all this from a phone call. Like literally, a buddy called you and said, you know, a lot people are drowning and you’re like, oh, I got to do this.
Nate: Yeah, you know, he was very adamant about it, and obviously, the disparity between African-American children ** just is drastic, right. So, I’ve learned a ton in regards to… I don’t know if you’ve been to the diversity and aquatics convention, that’s in Miami Florida every year in April. So, it’s not too far from you, hopefully you can get down there. Yeah, but you learn a lot of things that you didn’t know, you know. A lot of the reasons why African Americans in America can’t swim is because they were slaves, and we used to drown them. It wasn’t even fifty years ago, I think the New York Times just did a great piece and it showed, you know, segregation and race riots being started because of an aquatics director trying to pour mutant acid into a swimming pool, which is where that this picture came from.
And these are some of the things, when you get to the diverse and aquatics convention where you’re like, oh holy cow, I mean no wonder 70 percent just have no experience putting their face in the water whatsoever. And, the need is drastic and it’s not just black kids, it’s Latino kids. It’s white kids, we just do not learn how to swim in America. We think we do, but we don’t. I think what’s happened is, everything’s become super privatized for the most part where swim lessons are too expensive for a vast majority of people in America. How are they supposed to spend 40 or 50 dollars a lesson and you need 10, 15, 20 lessons to really become semi comfortable, right.
We need to get back to the education systems being the provider of water safety education in classroom setting. I think that’s number one in terms of our goals, that’s what international water safety day really is. It’s one day a year where people all over the world can talk about water safety in a classroom setting; it’s literally the first time, hundreds of thousands of children will be talked to about water safety. Now, I live in Virginia Beach, we’ve got 12 rec centers, we have pools, we have hundreds of miles worth of waterways, and we don’t teach a lick in school, zero. Just… I think we just had this conversation on your thread yesterday, I was asking uh, maybe not Paul D’Mello but was it his brother. I was asking if there’s water safety education in Florida and other schools and there isn’t… I mean, what we’re not even where I’ve been taking the kids in Virginia Beach out to the beach to say this is a wave, this is a current, like, which way is it going. What are we talking about?
This is not rocket science, you know, who has the best drowning record is Iceland, must have zero people drown. Is it because they only have 350,000 people, or is it because that every single kid in the country has to learn how to swim in physical education requirements; 30% of all PE courses are swimming from elementary school up to high school, right. And, you wonder why they’re so good, and they’re good at swimming periods; like competitive swimming, they’ve got some great people for such a small country. Um, but that’s what happens when you can get everybody involved right so there’s it’s just uh every place is different everyone’s got a little bit different of an issue, and in America I think it’s… there’s zero water, all the water safety education got sucked right out of the school systems, it’s gone. Now, it’s privatizing, it’s ridiculously expensive.
Eric: I mean, you’re absolutely right, you know, I’m… Christy Brown who’s on a couple days ago, you know. I think she used the expression that, you know, swim lessons have become the privilege of the rich, you know, it’s something that you can do if you can afford it, you know.
Nate: That’s right**
Eric: You know, and other countries do to a better, you know. I was just saying the other day to how, you know, Kate who, if you ever watched us do jeopardy, Kate she does jeopardy with me, and she’s our Logistics Director and super smart. And, she’s an awesome person but she went to college in Australia and she was a competitive swimmer in the States, actually from Virginia where you’re from, and did really well, you know, top of her class, best swimmers, you know, went to Australia figured she’d do the same thing, crush it, and quickly realized that being, you know, the best in the US means your ear about number 87 in Australia, you’re just the bottom of the rung and she stopped swimming competitively over there, she just couldn’t keep up, you know. She wasn’t even in the ballpark, you know.
Nate: I mean, they have…they have a great swimming community, a great swimming culture in surfing huge thing over there; kids involved on the water, it’s a mainstay thing. Actually, I think they have an issue where the swim teams can’t keep the kids that come in you, there’s just two other, there’s too much other things that they’d rather do like surf, so yeah. I mean, you know that they have had some programs that have been teaching some lessons for almost a hundred years now in Australia… in Western Australia. I got to watch a presentation done by Fran wood at the drowning prevention conference the World Congress on training in Vancouver, and they… basically, the government has subsidized some lessons for every single person and that’s what we should be doing in a lot of these areas like Virginia Beach. We have 10-12 pools, like we have all the people that are already trained we don’t need human resources, we don’t need swimming resources, we don’t need buses we have all these things, you know. We’re finally getting… they started a program called SOS students on the swim and they’re finally beginning to teach the second graders on the lowest tier schools in Virginia Beach House One.
They get ten two weeks, ten free lessons which is unbelievable, but this is a private donor type of situation. Again, this isn’t taxpayer money, we just passed a bill we’re going to put fourteen million bucks into the budget for pre-k education. It’s a huge topic right, none of the dollar or two million bucks they’re going to water safety education school system, none of those money’s going to pay the kids and we can make the cost super small, right. I think they said it’s basically for an entire class, two weeks or less entrenched transportation and everything. It’s only 500 bucks; the 500 bucks boom. There’s 30 kids in a second-grade class that all gets just to learn how to swim for free, you know, ten lessons and we’re really, really far away from the things that we really need to do. Dr. Steven Waller was at the diversity and aquatics convention and he said something that I think hopefully impacted a lot of people, and his point, he’s not a lot of research on the disparity of ethnicity and drowning in America, and one thing that he basically said was like, look there’s like eight or ten or twelve people that are in your communities that are making all decisions.
If you show up at City Council with five hundred swimmers and you demand water safety education be put into the school system, demand that water safety lessons be provided, they’re gonna have to do something, you know. If five people show up, they’re just going to say hey, thanks a lot for your time talking, you know, private donations. Cool, see you later. And, I think there is a point were, you really do have to show up in numbers and you will get something done. And I truly believe that, you know. So, our goal is to try to be the template, I’ve always felt like I’m just going to be the template. So, I treaded water for ten hours last year in the Chesapeake Bay, and I raised a little bit over fifteen hundred bucks.
Eric: That’s so cool
Nate: Thank you. Which is it… it’s not crazy right. But, my point is to show that every swimmer in the world can raise 500 bucks. If I can raise 1500 bucks, you can raise 500 and that will go a significantly far away for those from both the local communities and in the international communities.
Eric: Yeah, I think, you know, I think you’re right about, you know, realizing how small the number of people are that actually make decisions right, you know. What you think of these organizations as he’s kind of like giant, you know, it’s the school board, is this huge, you know, impenetrable force that you can’t even talk to you right. It’s the, you know, that’s right. Or, the government for that matter, but really, we get down to it, is just a handful of people, you know. Yes, go to barbecues they hang out there’s, you know. You call on the phone, you know, they’re human beings, you can get to those people and you can convince them.
Nate: Yeah, I mean we have a… internationally, we have an issue from the very tough and the international life-saving Federation be in charge of a sport that they’re trying to peddle to the International Olympic Committee to become an Olympic sport. Yet, they’re supposed to also be the world authority on drowning, it’s a joke. It’s a joke, it needs to be redone. Those people barely even have websites, they don’t have social media, they don’t have anything, you know. It is… when you see the egos that are inside of here trying to tear down good people, doing unbelievable things in other countries. It hurts, it is so sad to see the egos at the top of these organizations.
All they care about is money and power, and they don’t care about all the kids drowning. I really do… I do not believe that if they did, they would split it up, because you cannot be the organization that’s supposed to be the leader in preventing the leading killer of kids, dying in the world while also trying to peddle us for it. And, I think that’s the first and foremost thing that needs to happen at the very top is that they need to split into two pieces internationally. I think that’s going to be the one of the biggest things that helps the trickle-down effect to all these other countries and organizations that are trying to do unbelievable things. They’re trying to teach people how to swim you know, everyone’s got this curriculum you’ve got to use this one, and you got to pay us all this money to do it. And, you know, there’s an aquatic survival program that’s completely for free. It was …that was created by people that want to see the drowning rate go down. So, that’s available on our website; also, we have got a lot of resources like that if you are in a foreign country and you don’t have anywhere to turn, you can download the aquatic survival program and it’s really impressive and it was made specifically for low and middle income countries.
Eric: So, how does that work? So, if someone** the program, what’s involved in the program, what are the steps we’ll call it?
Nate: So, it’s basically like… swim Cambodia’s, using this exact same curriculum. So, the first most important part is, what is water safety education? Have you not seen the aquatic Survival program?
Eric: I have not, no.
Nate: Oh, you’re gonna love it. You know, if you look up Felix from the Felix foundation, he’s been doing amazing things in Africa, he’s one of the other guys that has just been beat up by the politics and the egos at the top of this organization. But, the first thing you get these giant signs, these giant posters and it’s literally the first step in these countries is water safety education, which is ironic cuz in America, the highest income country of them all, we don’t do them to any of that. But, that’s the first step when you get into a lower middle-income country, right.
Oh, we got to do water safety first, but not America. So, it’s almost like we’re trying to solve the problem backwards right in America, where there’s no education, let’s just have people go and pay for it. So yeah, and then the aquatic survival program is… its survival swimming lessons right, it’s about floating, it’s about treading and that’s kind of like the symbolism of the art Tread-a-thons is really, you just probably saw the article about the woman who fell off the cruise ship two days ago. She lived. Why? Not because she knows how to do butterfly like Michael Phelps? Because she knows how to float on her back and relax, and we saw the same, we see the same things over and over again in other countries.
There was a someone presenting that the drowning prevention conference from China and they showed a video clip of a woman who had been in the sea for over 24 hours floated on her back. She only had one lesson her entire life and that was just to learn how to float on her back. That was the only swim lesson she ever woman, and she floated for 24 hours and lived.
Eric: It probably saved your life
Nate: Obviously, yeah, one little lesson. Instead, we have 400-page curriculum, and you got to pay off all this money, you know. In these other countries, the aquatic survival program is just amazing. There’s a lot …we have a lot of issues, but we also have a lot of good people. And, we just need… we need to figure it out together.
Eric: So, the program for these other countries like Cambodia is using, you know, what age does it start at?
Nate: That’s a great question. So, most of the people are, you know, most of them are second graders, first graders, second graders. So, 6-7 years old right. Yeah, in terms of learning; when I was talking to Rick last night he kind of said this the same… something similar. He said, you know that 25 years ago when my daughter drowned, we weren’t even offered some lessons If you were under five years old. They said you know, and that just gives you an idea of how far away we are.
Eric: I mean, they were talking about ear aches right, they don’t want people get ear infections and when I started doing this, you know, 20 years ago they were saying yeah, don’t, you know, don’t put your kids in swim lessons under five years old, you know. They could get an ear infection which we always said, you know, well, rather get an ear infection, if …
Nate: I mean, things change right. Just um, you know, like it seems like ISR’s amazing; you’ve talked to hundreds of the people, I’ve talked to my best friends have done it, it’s the thing that’s sad right; is again, it take, it cost thousands of dollars to become certified, it takes all this time and then they have to charge people. So again, the poorest people will… they will never get those lessons because they can’t afford them. And, I don’t know if the other programs will jump on board.
And, all the sudden start doing more things than Mommy and Me Swim Lessons, I would assume that they will try to create their own ISR type of curriculum, because it’s a money thing, right. But, hopefully what it becomes is, it becomes a public safety thing and it’s subsidized by your local government and you understand that this is an investment in making children smarter at at age of three, four, five, six years old, you know. One person you should try to get on here is Robin Jorgenson. Robin Jorgensen, she’s from Australian she did a huge study with Griffith University a few years ago called um, Adding Capital to Young Australians, and what they did was, they tried to see what the benefits were other than learning to swim, that would come from learning to swim. And, what she found was, if you have a five-year-old that learns to swim and goes through some lessons versus a five-year-old that doesn’t, that five year old that does will come out fifteen months ahead socially and emotionally, ten months ahead cognitively and twenty months ahead in taking directions. Wow but this… we’re not talking about this right.
Well, this is again one of the marketing problems I think that we have is, especially in America where it’s ‘you need to teach your kids how to swim where they’re gonna drown’ and it’s much easier for people to be like, looking you’re not going to some lessons, you’re not going to the pool, we’re not going to the ocean, we’re not doing any of that and that, and that way, you are not going to drown too. Whereas, it needs to be… we need to explain to people that this is a head start in life, you know. Even the name of it y’all adding young capital like, what second grade teacher wouldn’t want the kids coming into class to be twenty months ahead almost two years ahead in taking directions. Again, what are we talking about?
This is just not rocket science, we just need to; we need to either form small coalition’s locally and you have to go and get it passed locally, or you have to go to the state, or you have to do a federally. And, swimming doesn’t have the money to lobby right, but we do have … we do have the people that can do it. So, maybe it is just getting involved in your local community at first, to go in and say like, we’re not this; is unacceptable that we live in Virginia Beach and we’re not teaching our children what a rip current is at all in school, you know. We have the biggest naval base in the world, five seconds away from Virginia Beach. You cannot join the military if you do not know how to swim. There is a lot of these kids in Virginia Beach that is economically challenged and parents cannot pay $40 of lesson for 20 lessons, they will never get to go to the military, our number one employer.
All these people want to talk about saving the bay, they want to talk about how Norfolk’s sinking because of climate change and rising sea levels and sea grasses going and dying and the blue crab population dying and the stripers dying and it’s like, how does…how does anyone in this community if they did not know how to swim. Why would they be interested in trying to figure out if blue crabs are dying. It’s like, this… it’s frustrating because we’ve been talking about stuff like this for years, until I’m almost blue in the face. Well, it looks like I’m a little bit red in the face, but it’s… I think we’re getting there, you know. It’s things like this podcast where we can get the word out and we can talk about what we’re doing, you know. The reason we created the fundraiser was to put money back into the pockets of all these small foundations we’re a father and a mother lost a baby and now they don’t know what to do. And they… and you hear the same thing right, we didn’t know, we weren’t educated. I can’t tell you how many times I hear that.
Eric: I have…on this podcast, I’ve heard it so many times…
Nate: Exactly, that’s right. So, what if …I think you said someone was trying to get in into the pediatricians, right, that’s a great organization, like OBGYNs, pediatricians, anyone that’s pregnant you have to go to those classes, you know, there’s no water safety education in those pamphlets. So, I know so we have a lot of work to do, you know. The government in America, we have Smokey the Bear, for a hundred years he’s on Billboard’s in Virginia where it rains. It’s been raining for seven weeks straight here, and we Smokey the bear remind us to not like, you know, forest fires in Virginia Beach but we don’t have a billboard with Smokey the Bear trying to swim in an area where we have nothing but water. So yeah, we need to do a better job there too. Um, we do have government money right. We do things like this. They need to spend more money on marketing in terms of giant advertisements in the areas where they’re needed the most; billboards and advertisements in Florida and Texas and California and Arizona, they should be like the first ones because that’s where the majority of children are drowning in America, right. I think we just combined forces a little bit more and go attack.
Eric: You know, um …and you’re in… you’re 100% percent right, you know. We’re at doing it at scales like you see, you know, Smokey the Bear or like you see for malaria in other countries, you know, you’re right. We get these little one off to off, you know, private donor things. Those are great, you know, those are really awesome when you get those but, that’s not attacking the problem at scale, right, that’s not like, you know, curing polio, that’s not like what we’re doing, you know, in other countries for some of these communicable diseases. It’s kind of this, you know, drop of the drop in the bucket mentality that we’ve been doing
Nate: And no one has been talking about it.
Eric: We don’t have a stop, drop and roll for water safety.
Nate: You know, I think everyone’s looking for the ice bucket challenge. Everyone all of a sudden, oh we got millions and millions of dollars to support, you know, that last thing was amazing; well you know the Tread-A-Thon, um it’s a fundraiser, it’s a proven model, it’s super easy for a team to sign up. Like, my Master’s team is doing it next month it’s on September 26th it’s not Wednesday we kind of just throw we just put a date there because we want… excuse me… what we want a lot of the college teams, a lot of the college club swim teams to join us because this is a perfect time for them at the beginning of the year; they also don’t really have a fundraiser. If they do, it’s a golf tournament or a 5k run/walk or whatever, and this is the first fundraiser for swim teams, I think, we’re swimmers will go, Oh my, first of all I didn’t know that this many people were drowning, and second off, this is like in my wheelhouse. I can help out, this is something that it’s actually really, really important to me, rather than it be some foundation that they’ve never heard of, right, doing some research that they don’t know of. And, you can’t even see the tangible benefits, you know. Swim Cambodia, it’s made up of volunteers. It went from zero trainers to now they have six trainers and then now, we have 21 Cambodian trainers.
Nate: And, we’re gonna hopefully double that number this year, and last year’s Tread-A-Thon raised over 30% of their entire annual budget. And, as you know, money goes really far over there. You can teach swim lessons for $1 right, that’s pretty amazing. I think some of the information coming out of the Bangladesh program and Swim Vietnam, I think Swim Vietnam it’s as low as like 15 bucks for one kid to go through 20 lessons, it’s really impressive. You can make a huge impact with just a little bit of money in these countries. Swim Vietnam now has over a hundred trainers, swim instructors on staff being paid making an honest wage teaching other Vietnamese children how to swim.
It’s… there are amazing, amazing people, and organizations out there and they’re not getting any help from the world authority on drowning and that’s sad. They’re not getting any help from the world of authority on swimming and that’s also sad. So, that’s why we built this, we built this for the people. We are one of the people, we’re not in it for money. If we were, we’d be really poor by now, you know. We do this because it’s a passion. I think you are the same exact way, I don’t want to see kids drown, I don’t want to see kids not be able to swim. I don’t know what I would do with my life if I didn’t know how to swim, I don’t know how people live without learning how to swim what a miserable life not being able to hang out on 70% of the waterways, 70% of the world.
You’re not even allowed to have any fun, you know, you got to be nervous all the time. Getting nervous when you’re fishing, very nervous if you’re on a boat, you’re probably not even gonna get on a boat. But so, it’s that’s, you know, this is we’ve been doing this for a long time now in terms of preaching about water safety and the importance of learning to swim, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing. We’re gonna raise money for our local initiatives, we’re gonna raise money for global initiatives and I think we have the ability to become one of these nonprofits that really is just changing hundreds of thousands and millions of people’s lives in the long run, because we’re doing the right thing by trying to train the trainers in these countries, and get them up off the ground and running. But, we have… everyone has to be educated first, we’re so far behind in education, we don’t know that swimming makes you smarter but that what we need to talk about right, that is what we need to preach when you’re trying to sell swim lessons, that’s what you need to be talking about. Yeah, being able to not drown is unbelievable, but that doesn’t get a lot of people moving right, it doesn’t get you flocking to the pool because if you just stay away from it, it’s hard to drown. You never touch the water.
Eric: You know… I am, you know, I’m pretty deep in this and I never heard that stat about the, you know, 20 months ahead on following instructions, on being more socially developed, being more… higher IQ points, you know, and if I didn’t know it, then for sure Susie q-bomb in Louisiana doesn’t know it, right. So…
Nate: 100%, and that’s what needs to be talked to the school boards right. They’re already making investments in education, we already have paid for the investments in the swimming pools, we already have the pool, why are we not funding things that will make our children smarter, safer and give them opportunities to get into fields that are our main fields here. But, you could say the same thing for Florida also.
Eric: For sure, you know, so Joey Ruth Smacks asks, you want the head of question. He says, who do you feel should be the lead on this issue, the government, the quiet professionals, fire and emergency services?
Nate: Uh, it’s a public education. Yeah, that’s what I think
Eric: So, state government.
Nate: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if we’ll ever pass a federal law that says everyone’s going to learn to swim right, but could you pass one in your city of Virginia Beach, that’s important. Yeah, I think we’re… that’s where I want to head in my local community. Like I said, it’s… I feel like we’ve been doing it, we’ve been the poster child, we’re trying to create the template. I tried it by myself, now we’re going to try with our team, we’re going to get more people this year, we’re going to tread… half our money is going to go to the swim programs that need the donations that are actually teaching the children ever Meech how to swim.
So, each of those two programs will get 25% of the money that our team’s takes in and then we’ll still have 50% going to the foundation that will help Cambodia, and hopefully we’ll be able to vet and get other programs because there’s so many great people out there; Dan Graham, and everything that they’ve done with Nyle Swimmers out in South Sudan is unbelievable, Swim Vietnam, Que Help when we bloom all these organizations in Vietnam, there’s guys swim doe and Indonesia that need help, there’s people in Thailand that need help, there’s these drowning intervention programs are all over the place and they have nowhere to turn, but they’re doing the right thing, they’re doing the good thing, they’re training the trainer, they’re moving forward they just need hope.
These people aren’t marketers like me and you, and that’s what I see as a huge discrepancy in where we can help out is where we’re gonna stay our two lanes. We want to raise awareness, want to help people raise money and that is it. I don’t want to try to create a new curriculum that says this is better than your curriculum, I’ve got no interest in that. I don’t care if you use off swim or the ASP or safer three or whatever, because at the end of the day, like my experience as a swim coach, I’ve got years and years and years and years and years but this like Nate’s curriculum are you trying to tell me that Nate’s curriculum needs to be out there and people need to pay for it because it’s better?
I don’t think so. I know I think, if you’ve talked you need to talk then you need to call Dr. Michael Luna, he started tasks the Alliance for safe children. They did all he did, all the community surveys that proved that child drowning was underreported drastically sometimes up to like almost 100 percent. There’s up to like 90 plus percent of all charge and trainings in some of these countries never even being… the data doesn’t get there because the kids aren’t getting into the hospitals because they’re already dead. Now, if you get malaria right, then you can try to maybe make the trip to your local hospital or the hospital 20 miles down the road or however far away it is. And, you try to hopefully get some treatment, but if you end up dying of malaria in the hospital now, they have they have a malaria box, they go well this person died of a malaria said the statistics out and that’s why the drowning numbers are so bad in a lot of these countries, is because you’re alive one minute, you’re dead the next. They never get to the hospital, never. The Box never gets ticked, so Dr. Michael Lennon said it best, he’s like look we don’t need to spend any more money on studies. We know this is happening everywhere, it’s an absolutely horrible thing.
We need to take action now, that’s literally what he wrote to the UN years ago, and they …we still haven’t. We need to be moving faster right, we know how to curb drownings barriers of protection, learning to swim, CPR, all these things that are easily trainable and then trainable for the future so that people like me don’t have to stay in Cambodia for, you know, 12 years. No, that’s not the goal right. Yeah, you teach them how to fish so they can catch their own fish, right. We don’t need to be in there and start a swim school, say that I’m the only guy in the whole world that can do this. No, it’s not the way it is, right. We did it at the Maldives a long time ago. We did two weeks of swim lessons as part of this National Geographic documentary and this Maldivian volunteer that helped us, he took it under his own wing the following year. He’s now teaches the same course that we taught them for two weeks on his own dawn, he takes two weeks off of work and he teaches every second grader on his home island how to swim. And speedo helps us out and they send us goggles to send to the Maldives so that little learn to swim program is has been going just a little bit better every single year, and that’s what we’re trying that we’re trying to create a lot of it we need a lot more of those and a lot more people like that being a part of it.
Eric: So, I mean if you could, if you were a magic Genie and you could snap your finger and, you know, get done what you’d want to see in the US and abroad, you know, but would that look like.
Nate: I mean, first off like nationally, like we need water safety education school systems, period. You know, not every school districts going to have pools and the ability to teach every single kid. I understand that, but the ones that do them need to take it to the next step right, they need to teach the kids how to swim so if they do have that ability that should be step two, but step one needs to be water safety education classroom setting. Excuse me… and water safety in a multitude of other facets and directions like we talked about with pediatricians and OBGYNs and people that are getting pregnant, all of those people should have information right, be given education about drowning.
Eric: Did you see Kerry Morrison’s survey?
Eric: Kerry Morrison from Live Like Jake, put out this survey and she got hundreds of respondents and essentially was asking parents, you know, did your pediatrician tell you about water safety, you know, do they warn you about drowning prevention? Did they…
Nate: Did they warning about the most likely…?
Eric: …cause of deaths for your kid?
Nate: Exactly right. That’s what’s so crazy right,
Eric: And, you ready for this? Only 15 percent, said yes. So, 85 percent of doctors aren’t telling parents, you know, not…. doctors, pediatricians because that’s important, but pediatricians aren’t instructing their patients on water safety, and most of her respondents are in Florida because she’s in Florida. So, you know, you can imagine if it’s that bad, you know, because she had a natural response but you know, a good chunk we will say, you know, a good percentage from Florida. So, you know, she’s been in Indiana, I can’t even imagine what that number would be, you know.
Nate: Yeah, I mean, that this… point taken right there right. And then internationally, we places they don’t; they don’t have an ability to get trained, you know, we have people calling us from Botswana saying well, we can’t get trained as a lifeguard or a lifeguard instructor in Botswana. We have to travel outside the country to go get a certification which is, you know, that’s an issue. We have to think of ways instead of a lot of… everyone wants to go over there and help out, and that’s great. Wonderful, it’s just not cost-effective right. It’s just not. But, perhaps it’s more cost-effective like Darlene Hoskins. She actually just paid the money to bring Jimmy from Uganda over and now, she says that he stays at her house for free, he eats for free, you know, all you have to really do is buy the flight, you know.
All the instruction and the training is free and this young man is going to go back with a skill set to Uganda that almost nobody else has. He can start a business, he could start a non-profit, he can work with the government, he can work with hotels that have swimming pools, he has the ability now to find the right path to turn his skill set into something that he can provide to everybody which is so exciting which is a something that no one’s really done before; flip the whole script. Let’s bring them over here, you know, keep the cost down. We’ll educate him and then we’ll, you know, they can go back and get to work doing their own thing. So, there’s a lot of different things that we still need to look at every country’s different. It’s a …it is a super difficult multifaceted issue everywhere and it’s tough. It’s going to be tough but I think we know how to do it, and that’s because we do know how to teach CPR and swim lessons. We just… that’s what we need to do, you know.
Eric: So, what do you have going on? I know you’ve got the Tread-A-Thon coming up with your masters team, you know, weather events, you know, initially there was stuff do you… you and your organization… have going on and…?
Nate: So, we are doing a Tread-A-Thon on September 26, it’s on Wednesday, we chose that day because last year when we did it with college swim teams that worked out really well, that was a college coach. So, I understood like at the beginning of the season it’s okay to skip a practice, the kids were probably beat up anyways. So, Wednesday in the afternoon, it’s a perfect time for the college teams to get in because they’re already at swim practice. Now, they’re treading and so you’re essentially trading a swim practice for a treading practice.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t join, you know, any swim team can join, any organization can join as long as they can set up a little pool time makes you know, obviously make sure you have lifeguards on duty, and it’s really simple and on our website, so you would create a team you know, like a lifesaver pool fence team, and then all your employees that are people that are coming to tread with you, they just sign up underneath your team. Now, they have a profile to send out say hey, do you guys know all these people are drowning? Like, we’re raising money for this and this and this. And so, yeah that’s… we’d love to get as many teams on board as we can raising money on Wednesday September 26. If you can’t do it on that day that’s fine, pick a day, any day doesn’t matter.
Pick a Saturday, whatever works for you. Most importantly, the goal is to raise awareness of what’s going on and you need, you know, people need to go on Facebook live and talk about drowning while they’re treading, you know. They need to talk about how they didn’t know even though they’re one of the best swimmers in state or whatever. So yeah, and then International Water Safety Day is on May 15th every year. We have a fantastic partnership with diverse in aquatics in America Red Cross, you can sign up to basically get a curriculum and stickers for a May 15 in classroom water safety lesson. Last year, we had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of respondents and people participating all over the world.
We hope to make it 2 million stickers this year, three million stickers, 4 million stickers and just expand it so that one day it is super water safety education day right, and hopefully that gets the ball rolling in too and people understanding the importance of not just one day, it got to be a public educational thing, it’s got… we have got to teach kids about water safety, you have to go home with a flier that says no, I need to learn how to swim and here’s why. Not only because I don’t want to, not only because I might not be in the military, but also cause like I’m martyred and I’m pretty sure parents wouldn’t mind that either, and teachers wouldn’t mind it either. When they get a classroom full of fifth… five-year-olds, that just so happen to be more like **.
Eric: Yeah, and you know, it’s when you talk about the military Jakka Will Inc is a… and you know, and he was talking about how there aren’t enough… for the first time in American history, there aren’t enough people who are… who meet the physical prerequisites to become Navy SEALs who become Special Forces. Like, the pool of people that they need aren’t big enough for them to pick out who they want. Now, usually what they have is way too many people who, you know, fit that the prerequisites and they weed out the ones that, you know, aren’t gonna make it right. But, there aren’t enough people who, you know, have the right BMI who can swim, who can… you can do all the things they need to become a Navy SEAL. So, you know, the military is actually getting hurt by the fact that people don’t notice whim, you know, they don’t know if Navy SEALs right now because there aren’t enough people getting swimming lessons, you know. It’s crazy how it affects like every area of society almost, you know.
Nate: Yeah, not surprised. Yeah. Not at least but so yeah. Thanks for having me on, I really appreciate the time. Uh, you know, I like to scream and shout as I like to tell people, I can get pretty excited and heated up and passionate and, you know, I think that’s all good. Yeah, we need to… we need to move forward together and set the egos aside because this is about saving lives. It’s not about making money.
Eric: So, what is your website?
Nate: Drowningawareness.org, if you want to sign up for the tread-a-thon next month, go to raisedrowningawareness.org and you can click ‘become a fundraiser’ and you will takes two seconds, you’ll create your own profile, it will ask you if you want to create a team, if you do then create a team and then just share your team page and all your friends can join you underneath your team page, and then you can kind of keep track of who’s raising the most money for your team which is always… competitions, always healthy right.
Eric: I enjoy up the competition very much and that money, and where does that money go to specifically? I know some go to swim lessons.
Nate: Yeah, so you know, half the money goes to that swim team whatever it may be, you know, like our masters team, we’re just giving our money away but the other 50% goes to the International Water Safety Foundation to run the foundation. But, most of what we do is essentially, we’re raising money for Swim Cambodia, you know, like I think last year through training, we did… we funded over 30% of their annual budget it last year and we funded the 30% of the annual budget this year. So, in actuality, we raised almost two thirds of the annual budget in one day, one tread-a-thon last year with a bunch of college teams. They basically funded all those Cambodians to become trainers ,15 of them which was really astounding.
Eric: That’s super cool, you know.
Nate: It’s really exciting to watch it scale. We provide all the annual reports Swim Cambodia and Conrad foot, you know, we want to be open as possible, we want people to see where their money is going right, we want you to see that we’re training Cambodians in and they’re learning how to swim and they’re passing on CPR skills and these sorts of things, and we want to get into other countries. There’s a huge need you know.
And, like I said, like the money goes really far right. Someone like Dan Graham and Nyle Swimmers, they… if they had a donation of $4,000 that would pay the annual salary of a woman who has a do college degree or an entire 12 run months to run the program; that people say, like all or is my money going to well is that $4,000 going to Celeste ins, or is it $4,000 going to the salary on the lady that’s run into some lessons that’s getting the sole lessons to happen right.
So, you know, me and you as business owners we understand that then you need that money to get the things running and that’s not always exactly what people want to hear. But, the amount of efficiency and things that you can do when you could just take $4,000 and spend it on this full-time employees just unbelievable the amount of output that you’ll get, 40 hours a week. Oh, what are we talking about, it’s just so much so** out it’s just exciting. So yeah, we want to expand and grow and try you know, then people can choose like you want your money to go to Swim Cambodia, or you want your money to go to NASA Mercer or what, you know. And, it’s exciting.
Eric: So, real quick, talk about swim nerds and your pace class.
Nate: Okay, sure so uh that’s like my day job, you know. It’s been so busy, it’s taken a lot of time away from me to volunteer more hours to the foundation, but we manufacture digital pace clocks for swimming pools and aquatic facilities and swim teams all over the world. They… it’s a swimpractice.com we made them extremely affordable, they’re Bluetooth programmable, come the mobile app.
So, we’ve basically just taken, you know, we’re… in our business on the business side, we want to save swim teams money and we want to pay swim coaches more money because we know what it’s like being a poor swim coach and how difficult it is in the amount of time and they are. And, also the people that are the folks that can help a foundation out right because they have a swim team, they have a swim practice, they need to fundraise, they’re probably already a non-profit, they already know how to tread water, they don’t know this is happening, right. I try to keep them separate as much as I can because I don’t want people thinking like, oh this guy’s making money on every angle; it’s not I don’t make a dime. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on this nonprofit. I want to save lives that’s what I’m here for. Business is business, nonprofit is nonprofit, and I think some people don’t understand the difference between the two, right. A non-profit is a business but it’s not a business where you should be making a million bucks a year. That’s not what it’s about right. So yeah, my business is ** or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org they are extremely affordable and extremely useful. So, that’s **
Eric: Beautiful, alright anything else you want people to know before we wrap this up Nate?
Nate: Don’t be scared to go on Facebook live and talk about the importance of water safety and what is going on in the world, right. That is why we named the website drowningawareness.org, we want these swim teams to sign up and tread water, we want them to talk about it. They don’t know how… if they don’t know and there are these elite swimmers, how are any of their friends or family members going to know, right. Every single one of us has friends and family that have or are having babies, you know, nieces nephews or friends. I feel like my life at 34 years old** baby City and people are calling me and asking me more now than ever, when can, you know, I start some lessons or you know, what do you know about ISR, and immediately I’m just giving out all the ISR numbers of all my friends. Because, it’s important; you’re gonna save these kids’ lives, if you’re gonna make them smarter, you put them in a better opportunity and that’s what we’re here for.
Eric: That’s awesome man…
Nate: Congratulations on everything that you guys are doing, it’s huge, you know. I love podcasts, I listen to them from the minute I get up to the minute I go back to sleep. Because, I think it’s just so much great free information and it gets out there on all these different platforms, you know. We have all these comments and then that’s really, really cool and now hopefully this will be shared over and over and over again, and people can start a good conversation.
Eric: I think it will, I think you will see a lot people sharing it so, that’s awesome. So, I appreciate it. I appreciate everything you’re doing and if we can do anything for you, you know, just let me know.
Nate: Sounds good.
Eric: All right men, there it is, swimming (cross talk). All right have a good day.