CHATHAM, NJ – Recent pool re-openings after the COVID-19 closures have brought attention to the importance of drowning prevention and water safety.

Chatham High School rising senior and certified lifeguard Kate Ziegler took on the challenge of bringing awareness to communities at both local and national levels as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Although she received the award in February of her junior year, she is continuing her project in hopes to further emphasize the importance of swimming smartly and safely in the water.

As a result, she has created a website (www.swimsmartly.com), brochures and business cards to be displayed at pools, as well as, pool stores. These instructional tools include both descriptions and visual representations of how drowning can happen, symptoms of swimmer distress, and drowning prevention. The second part of her project was to hold presentations at various pools to educate caregivers on the seriousness of the drowning epidemic.

In her experience working as a lifeguard, she has been fortunate enough to save more than one toddler from drowning in the baby pool, while their caregivers were either on their phones, talking to their friends, or consuming alcohol poolside. Her experience inspired her to ensure that water safety and attentive supervision in and around the pool are practiced.