A swimmer takes the leap into the sea at a past Ocean Beach Pier Jump. Photo by Chris Stone

Ever wanted to leap off the Ocean Beach Pier? You can Monday and for a good cause, the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego.

The foundation, along with the San Diego Junior Lifeguards, will host the Pier Jump for lifeguards, parents and the public at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday. The proceeds fund swimming lessons and safety programs for under-served youth.

In addition, lifeguards will share stories of how they learned to swim through programs at Hage Elementary School in Mira Mesa.

The foundation said nearly 850 people have drowned in San Diego in the last 20 years.

“It’s important for children in our community to have the opportunity to enjoy the water safely,” said “Buc” Buchanan, the foundation’s president.

Among children ages 1 to 14, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury and death, according to the foundation. Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent.

Yet some children face barriers to learning to swim, officials said:

  • 79 percent of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little-to-no swimming ability.
  • 64 percent of African-American, 45 percent of Latino, and 40 percent of Caucasian children have little to no swimming ability.

In 2018, the foundation spent $150,000 on programs that aided more than 10,500 kids. Their services included 6,000 swim lessons and visits to the beach, and 4,500 safety lectures. Every $100 donation funds swim lessons for one child in the region.

Follow the event on social media with the hashtag, #PierJump2019. To jump, a minimum $100 donation is required and the person must be at least 18. Swimmers must use fins and be strong, as they will have up to 1,000 yards to cover from the pier to the shore.

– Staff reports