‘Ditch the Ditches’ program offers free summer swim passes to youth

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Summer is around the corner, and what better way to keep cool than to go for a nice swim? But City of Albuquerque officials are warning about the dangers of swimming in the wrong places.

“During the monsoon season, in the summer months, there has been and there will always be flash floods that come through the city,” said Lt. Tom Ruiz with Albuquerque Fire Rescue. “Anybody that’s in those arroyos and flood channel systems – there’s always a threat of those people either getting hurt or worse.”

That is why the city’s Ditch the Ditches Program is bringing back the free “Swim and Play Pass.”

“We’re encouraging kids and families to go to a city or a county swimming pool rather than play in any dangerous body of water,” Ruiz said.

Passes are available to pick up in person at any of the city or county fire and police stations. There is also an option to take a pledge online to never enter a ditch or an arroyo, in order to get a digital pass.

“What we’re really trying to do is promote a safe environment for families and kids to be able to play and spend your hot summer months and by going to the city swimming pools or county swimming pools,” Ruiz said.

He went on to warn that all bodies of water can be dangerous, even public pools with lifeguards, so it is important to keep a close eye on younger swimmers.

“The best way for kids to be safe is to play with their parental, you know, sort of guidance and parents watching them,” Ruiz said.

Officials also encourage swim lessons.

“Having your child in a swim lesson program for as little as a week increases their ability to be able to play safely and in a body of water, whether it’s a pool, a small pool at your home, or one of the big city pools,” Ruiz said.

Click here for more information on the “Swim and Play Pass.”