Upstate Splash Freestyle Jam
WHAT: Fundraiser to prevent childhood drowning
WHO: Musicians include Charles Hedgepath, Col. Bruce Hampton, Rev. Jeff Mosier, Yonrico Scott, Jeff Sipe, Darby Wilcox and Sam Kruer
WHEN: Sunday, May 22, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
WHERE: GottRocks, 200 Eisenhower Drive
COST: $25, includes pig and chicken roast from GreenBrier Farms
An Eagle Scout surfer, an elite swim instructor and an indie musician have teamed up to produce a concert for preventing childhood drowning.
More South Carolina children die from drowning than any other accidental cause except for asphyxiation, according to a state report. Between 2006 and 2014, there were 65 drownings among children 17 and under, according to the 2015 State Child Fatality Advisory Committee report.
Often, children and adults drown because of a lack of water safety awareness, says Steve Scott, executive director of Upstate Splash, a Mauldin nonprofit that began in February 2015 to provide free swimming lessons to children and to raise swim safety awareness.
A California native and Eagle Scout, Scott grew up in an area where every high school had a pool and every kid learned to swim.
“We grew up at the beach, surfing and hanging out at swimming pools,” he says. “Our blond hair would turn green because we were in the chlorine so much.”
Scott and his wife, Leslie Scott, came up with the idea of Upstate Splash, partly because of their mutual attraction to water. Leslie, who teaches special education at Hillcrest High School and has coached high school swimming, is a member of the United States Masters Swimming (USMS) organization, which organizes national competitions. She also is one of fewer than two dozen people in the U.S. who is a level 4 certified swim coach through USMS.
Upstate Splash raised $6,300 at an open water swim at Lake Jocassee in August, he says.
“When we planned that event we were told we’d get 30 to 40 swimmers, but we had over 200 swimmers representing seven states,” Scott says. “We had 15 organizations donate food and volunteers, and that’s when we found out the community embraces this cause.”
The nonprofit uses its funds in partnerships with organizations such as Westside Aquatics Complex to provide pools and swim instructors, who work with children at no charge to families. So far, the funding has helped more than 200 at-risk children learn to swim.
“The other part of it is we’ll start using those funds with educational programs, going out to schools and educating kids that they need to learn how to swim and learn water safety,” Scott says.