East Brunswick offers free swimming lessons in light of recent drowning incidents


EAST BRUNSWICK–In direct response to the recent drowning incidents that have occurred in the township, the East Brunswick Recreation and Parks Department is offering free swimming lessons.

On Jan. 22, Yousef Khela, 13, drowned after falling through the ice at the municipal pond on Civic Center Drive.

A little more than a month ago, Bharat Patel, 62, his daughter-in-law Nisha Patel, 33, and her daughter, 8, drowned in a pool at a home on Clearview Road in East Brunswick on June 22.

On July 4, a 4-year-old boy died after drowning in a pool at a kindergarten graduation party.

“We’ve had a series of unfortunate tragedies in terms of drownings or loss of life in bodies of water. … So even though I don’t think the water is any different here in East Brunswick than it is anywhere else, I think it’s just a cluster of cases, but points out the fact that in many instances, either it was a kid or adults that didn’t know how to swim,” Mayor Brad Cohen said.

In light of these recent tragedies, Cohen said he asked the township’s Department of Recreation and Parks to put together a program that offers swimming lessons in town to East Brunswick residents both adults and children.

“The program is [run] by the world’s largest swim lesson group which is a group that functions through the World Water Park Association and their mission is to provide lessons to general public on swimming since it’s the second-largest cause of accidental death in children under the age of 14,” Cohen said. “Most adults, close to 54%, don’t know how to swim. So their goal has been to increase swimming awareness and pool water safety.”

Cohen said lessons will be open to residents only and people of all ages are welcome. Lessons will be run by staff from the YMCA and will be held from 5:30-6 p.m. or 6:30-7:30 p.m. on July 29 and Aug. 5 at Crystal Springs Family Waterpark, located at 380 Dunhams Corner Road.

“Again, it’s completely free if anybody wants to continue with swimming lessons that are available through the YMCA program offered through our parks and recreation department,” Cohen said.

Cohen said only 25 people per swimming session will be permitted.

“So I really want to thank [Department Recreation and Parks Director] Mike Reissner and [Business Administrator] Joesph Criscuolo for getting that program together so quickly and making that available to our residents,” Cohen said.

For more information or to register for a swim lesson, visit www.eastbrunswick.org/249/Recreation-Parks.

Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].