Free Swimming Lessons for Qualifying Children Available in Danbury

On December 4, 2023, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Deputy Commissioner Mason Trumble joined local and state elected officials and the Connecticut Institute For Communities (CIFC) leaders at the Danbury Community Center (DCC) to announce a $128,000 grant to fund free swimming lessons for qualifying children.

The partnership with the CIFC will enable children ages 17 and under to receive free swimming lessons at the DCC pool.

The DCC is part of the CFIC umbrella and brings individuals of all ages together through well-crafted recreation, enrichment, and community-building events – inspired by and reflecting the interests of those who reside in the greater Danbury area. The DCC is located in the heart of Downtown Danbury, just off Main Street, is accessible from the public bus line, and has parking. The DCC offers indoor recreational opportunities including pickleball, volleyball, basketball, Zumba, and yoga. Additionally, the DCC offers year-round aquatics in Danbury’s only public-access swimming pool that includes open swimming and lessons for adults and children 5 years and older.

The program, funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds authorized by the Lamont Administration and State Legislature, is expected to serve 300 children each year. Children who live in a qualified census tract and/or receive SNAP benefits - or are recommended to the program - are eligible to register for the free-swimming lessons from CIFC at Danbury’s only public-access pool. These lessons are one of numerous DEEP initiatives aimed at increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in outdoor recreation activities in State Parks and Forests.

“DEEP is excited to partner with the CIFC to provide children more opportunities to learn how to swim,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Mason Trumble. “Swimming is the basis of many great outdoor experiences for children and families here in Connecticut. Sadly, swimming ability plays a role in drowning deaths that occur in swimming pools, lakes, rivers, and on our shoreline. While it seems like the summer swimming season is a long way off, this is a great time for children to learn to swim. The partnership with CIFC complements DEEP’s partnerships with Connecticut YMCAs and the Boys and Girls Club of New Britain to ensure children from additional communities can learn how to swim, be safe around the water, and most importantly, help prevent future tragedies.”

DEEP’s partnerships with Connecticut YMCAs and the Boys and Girls Club of New Britain have resulted in more than 2,000 children learning how to swim since lessons began in November 2022.

“This is a public health crisis, and as the only publicly available pool in downtown Danbury, we see the DCC’s role as helping many Danbury youth learn to swim. Additionally, opportunities for recreation are so important to the well-being of our youth, individuals, and families when we note that obesity, mental health challenges, and lack of access to recreational activities and facilities all disproportionately impact minority and low-income communities, as well as individuals of color,” said Katie Curran, CEO of the Connecticut Institute For Communities, Inc.

“Free swimming lessons will save lives — preventing some of the hundreds of drownings that occur to children every year,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal. Using federal funds to teach kids how to enjoy water safely will prevent senseless tragedies. Thanks to organizations like CIFC — and their swim lessons — kids will have brighter, better futures.”

“With accidental drownings of Connecticut children on the rise, it is critically important for kids to be introduced to water safety early on. I was surprised when I met with a group of young people this week and they said that among the many changes they would like to see in their community, learning to swim topped the list. With ARPA funds, qualifying children will now be able to access free swimming lessons at Danbury Community Center through a streamlined process to ensure more residents can participate. This program has the potential to save lives while opening opportunities for families that once seemed out of reach," said Congressional Representative Jahana Hayes (CT-05).


“When my daughter was little, she took swimming lessons in this same pool. I have fond memories of taking her to these lessons and I’m excited this opportunity will be available to the community. Knowing how to swim is not only a great recreational activity, but it also help save lives,” said State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury, New Fairfield, Ridgefield) 

"It takes a village to raise a child includes knowledge, skills, and lessons for children to thrive. Learning to swim is one thing we must do for both safety and fun. Thank you CIFC and DEEP for making it happen,” said State Representative Bob Godfrey (D-Danbury).

Connecticut is fortunate to have access to local pools, Long Island Sound, and many local lakes and ponds. However, access to swimming lessons is limited. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children aged 1-4 die from drowning in the United States than any other cause of death, and two children die every day from drowning. For children ages 5-14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury or death.

In underserved communities, 79 percent of children who live in households with incomes less than $50,000 have no/low swimming ability. 

This Free Swim Lessons program is part of DEEP’s broad, ongoing focus on DEI, and part of the specific DEI in Parks Initiative for 2023, which focuses on improving equitable access to the outdoors.

Connecticut Institute For Communities, Inc. (CIFC) is a Danbury-based non-profit organization that provides health, education, and housing programs and services to individuals and families in Western Connecticut. CIFC seeks to enhance the well-being of its communities through high-quality, accessible services that empower individuals and families to thrive. For more information about CIFC, please visit

Photo caption: (l to r) DEEP Deputy Commissioner Mason Trumble, Senator Julie Kushner, Rep. Bob Godfrey, CIFC CEO Katie Curran, Mayor Roberto Alves, Rep. Rachel Chaleski, Rep. Farley Santos, DEEP Bureau Chief Mike Lambert (CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection)