San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation
By the numbers, Corey McClelland is a third-generation San Diegan who worked as a city lifeguard for 16 years and made more than 1,000 rescues. His professional lifeguarding days are done, but not his devotion to water safety.
“My passion is for using my talents to save lives,” McClelland said. “Now I am saving lives by raising money for drowning prevention.”
McClellan is president and CEO of the San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation, which is devoted to water safety.
“Our mission is simple,” he said. “We do everything we can to prevent drowning and save lives.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of two children 14 years and younger die each day from drowning. The statistics suggest that African-American children are at the highest of drowning, especially in swimming pools.
“The San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation believes drowning is preventable,” McClelland said.
The foundation focuses on poor children, including those who live within miles of the beach but have never been to the ocean.
In addition to training 1,400 junior lifeguards each summer, the foundation’s Waterproofing San Diego program reached more 15,000 people in 2014 though free aquatic safety lectures, free swim lessons and a day at the beach for under-served youth.
“Over the last three years, we have provided free swim lessons to the Monarch School for the homeless and countless other under-served youth,” McClellan said. “Our goal is to provide swim lessons to every third, fourth and fifth grader in San Diego city schools.”
McClellan founded the foundation in 2009 to prevent the city’s financial problems from eliminating the junior lifeguard program. Since then, annual donations have jumped from $30,000 to almost $150,000 in 2014. An Ocean Beach Pier Jump fundraiser event in 2014 featured Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, and current and former City Council members.
Meanwhile, the foundation has debuted new programs including an ocean science education program, a festival, a swim-run event, and a program for 7- and 8-year-old kids.
In addition, the foundation is kicking off its new Waterproofing America program with a 24-hour swim-relay fundraiser in which teams of six or 12 people will swim around the clock 24 hours raising money to prevent drowning. The inaugural Swim 24Challenge was held at UC San Diego and raised more than $64,000.
Parents of children who have taken part in the programs “know what an amazing skill set your kids will have for the rest of their lives,” McClelland said. “They’ll know how to be safe in our ocean and gain the self-confidence that the overall program instills.”
To support the San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation, consider giving money to its aquatic safety and education programs. Visit sdjgfoundation.org to make a donation.
If you’re a swimmer, get a relay team together and join the foundation for the next Swim 24Challenge. The last challenge, in August 2014, brought together more than 200 swimmers who each raised $100 to teach a an underserved child to swim. To learn details about the next Swim 24Challenge, visit swim24.org.