Children cool off at the pool at Willow Metropark in Huron Charter Township. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks are in the process of creating a regional swimming program development plan to help address the systemic disparities in swimming ability and water competence in the area.

Children cool off at the pool at Willow Metropark in Huron Charter Township. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks are in the process of creating a regional swimming program development plan to help address the systemic disparities in swimming ability and water competence in the area.

Photo provided by Huron-Clinton Metroparks


Metroparks seek public input on new regional swim program

By: Mary Beth Almond | Metro | Published August 13, 2021

METRO DETROIT — Residents of southeastern Michigan have an opportunity to help guide a new regional water safety and swim initiative.

Through Labor Day weekend, the public can share input via an online survey that will be used to help develop the Huron-Clinton Metroparks’ first regional swimming program.

While everyone is familiar with Michigan’s Great Lakes, some might not realize that the state is also home to over 11,000 small inland lakes — and a host of public pools — with plenty of opportunities for water recreation.

“Living in Michigan, water is part of who we are as a state,” said Huron Clinton Metroparks Director Amy McMillan.

However, disparities in swimming ability contribute to a higher risk of drowning in the region, according to McMillan, who noted that learning to swim through formal lessons may reduce the likelihood of drowning by 88%.

To help address the systemic disparities in swimming ability and water competence in the area, the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is in the process of creating a regional swimming program development plan with aquatics consultant Counsilman-Hunsaker.

The plan — which will focus on public swimming programs and facilities across the HCMA’s five-county region — will include an existing conditions “State of Swimming” report, the development of regional swimming-related goals and objectives, and the creation of a programming action plan.

“When we look to address water safety and swimming regionally, we have to first figure out what assets exist on the ground throughout the region and where the gaps are. This program is a regional assessment of where swim programs exist and where they don’t, so that we can identify those gaps, identify opportunities for partnerships, see if those are gaps that we can fill within the Metroparks’ pools that exist — in the manner in which those pools exist — or whether we work with local units that have swimming pools,” McMillan said.

Miklos Valdez, a project director at Counsilman-Hunsaker, said the company “believes deeply” in providing opportunities for everyone in the community to access aquatic education and training programs.

“We want the programming action plan to be a reflection of southeast Michigan and Detroit and are working to identify the local needs, issues and opportunities that will drive the goals and objectives of the project,” he said in a statement.

The first phase of the project is a public survey — developed by market research firm Left Brain Concepts, with help from Counsilman-Hunsaker and the Metroparks — that can be taken online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HuronClinton.  Those without internet service can pick up a printed survey from select locations throughout the region, which can be found on the Metroparks’ website.

“It will take a few minutes to complete the survey, but it is 100% worth your time to do that,” McMillan said. “The more people who respond, the better data we have to make better decisions to fill those gaps, to create those partnerships, to support the work going forward.”

Survey results will be shared and discussed at a series of public community meetings, and officials said the data will help guide the development of the overall regional swimming program plan, which should be complete before the end of the year.

Additional organizations that wish to take part in the development of the plan should contact Metroparks Chief of Planning and Development Nina Kelly at nina.kelly@metroparks.com.