Formed in 2008, after the tragic drowning deaths of two African American teens, Splash Mid-South provides swim lessons for undeserved at-risk youth in the Memphis Area. The Hooks Institute works in partnership with the program by providing a research component that evaluates improved skill in swimming and the effectiveness of the swim lessons provided by community partners. Since Swim lessons began, over 5,000 children have taken swim lessons or completed the water safety instruction program.
Splash is a diversity swimming program operated by a community partnership that includes Methodist LeBonheur, SafeKids Mid-South, the City of Memphis, the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South, other pools in the city, Memphis Tiger Swimming, and the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis (Hooks Institute). On May 31, 2008, at an outdoor pool opening in Memphis, two African-American children drowned in city swimming pools. Anthony Norris, the parent of competitive swimmers with Memphis Tiger Swimming, decided to get swimming lessons for local minority children to address the cause of this tragedy. Splash has now provided swim lessons for over 5,000 children, has a developmental swim team, has graduated a number of kids to swim with competitive swim teams, become life guards and swim instructors, and maintains a waiting list of children wanting swim lessons. Five to ten years ago, if you went to a competitive swim meet in the Mid-South area, there were very few kids of color swimming, that is no longer true.