Olympic Gold Medalist-Endorsed Stewie the Duck Swim School Opens for Lessons in Norwalk on June 5


On January 1, 1989, a 21-month old toddler, Stew Leonard III, lost his life in a drowning accident.  This sparked his parents, Kim and Stew Leonard Jr, to pledge that they would do everything in their power to prevent this tragedy from striking other families, since drowning is a leading cause of death in children under five.  In 1990, they founded the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation in memory of their son.  Its mission is to educate children and families on water safety.  Since 1990, the Foundation has raised $6 million to help fund training thousands of lifeguards and providing hundreds of thousands of free or low-cost swim lesson for children in need.



  • Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children ages 1-4. Drowning remains in the top five causes of unintentional injury related death from birth to 54 years old.
  • 23 percent of child drownings happen during a family gathering near a pool.
  • An average of 4,000 people die from unintentional drowning in the United States every year, or about 10 per day. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
  • In addition to fatal drownings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that in 2016 an additional 9,000+ victims were seen at U.S. Emergency Departments for a non-fatal submersion injury.
  • Drowning is preventable. Statistics show that children who take swimming lessons are 88% less likely to not drown than children who do not. 



  • The Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation is opening the first Stewie the Duck Swim School in June 2023 in Norwalk, Connecticut.  This best-in-class facility will provide both group and private swim lessons in 90 degree water and will teach children ages six months and up.  Class levels offered will range from Parent & Child through Pre-Swim Team.  All proceeds from Stewie the Duck Swim School will be used to fund swim lessons for children in need.
  • Stew and Kim Leonard have published two books on water safety, with all proceeds benefitting the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation. Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim is an award-winning introduction for children to learn about three important water safety rules.  . A Spanish version called El Patito Stewie Aprende a Nader, is also available.  Swimtime with Stewie the Duck is a 6” x 6” board book version of Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim, which is geared towards children ages 1-3.  More than a quarter million copies of the books have been sold and volunteers and partners have conducted 150,000 readings of Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim all over the world as a fun and effective way to educate children on the importance of water safety.
  • The Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim mobile app for Apple and Android stores and Amazon Kindle was introduced in April 2012.  The iBook app, which is free of charge, is the first of its kind designed to promote water safety to children.  It features read-to-me audio and contains interactive animations, sound effects, a memory game, and a Water Safety Song sing-along. In the past 11 years, this app has been downloaded more than 65,000 times globally, including by users in Australia, Canada, the UK, and China.
  • In 2016, Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation launched Stewie the Duck Animal Crackers.  Available at all seven Stew Leonard’s locations, these crackers are all-natural, nut and dairy free and contain no preservatives.  All proceeds from the sale of these animal crackers benefit Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation and support low-cost swimming lessons, life guard training, and water safety education programs. 
  • In 2022, all seven Stew Leonard’s stores started selling a Stewie the Duck Singing Plushie that sings the water safety song which is featured in Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim. To date, we have sold nearly 4,000 units of this plushie!  
  • Stewie the Duck has been endorsed by Olympic Swimmers Janet Evans, Rowdy Gaines, Mark Greevers and Annie Chandler. The books have also been purchased by educational and water safety organizations throughout the country, including Florida Department of Health, Cook Children’s Health Care System, Tucson Medical Center, Long Island Spa and Pool, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles County Fire Department, the State of Florida, Lifeguards Without Boarders, National Water Safety Congress, Rialto Fire Department, Bass Pro, the City of Littleton, Co., Columbia Medical, Connecticut State University, and local YMCAs in Yonkers, N.Y. and in Danbury, Norwalk, and Hartford, Conn.
  • The Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation awards more than $160,000 annually for swim lesson scholarships to the Foundation’s grantees. These include YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs and local recreation departments, with a focus on helping children who may otherwise not have access to swim lessons and are at greater risk of drowning.


  • Stew Leonard Jr. accepted the 2016 Firefighters Leadership Award at the Nassau County Firefighters Museum’s Badge of Courage Gala on behalf of Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation for the foundation’s work with water safety and education.
  • The 2015 Community Lifesaver Award was presented to Families United to Prevent Drowning/Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. Families United to Prevent Drowning is a group of family foundations that are working together to prevent drowning and entrapment.  Participating foundations include Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation, Abbey’s Hope (Minnesota), BECAUSE of B.R.A.Y.D.E.N. (South Carolina),BMF Project (Texas), CEF Foundation (Massachusetts), Colin’s Hope (Texas), Drowning Prevention Foundation (San Francisco), Hannah’s Foundation (Australia), Just Against Children Drowning (Florida), Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation (Nebraska), The C.L.A.Y. Foundation (Maryland), The Josh Project (Ohio), The LV Project (Texas), The ZAC Foundation (Fairfield, CT), and Mason’s Gift (Florida).
  • In April 2014, Stew and Kim Leonard were recognized with the 2014 Community Impact Award by the American Red Cross – Connecticut & Rhode Island Region in acknowledgment of their longstanding commitment to the work of the American Red Cross and the lifesaving work of Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation that has made water safety its priority.
  • Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation received a Regional Award from The National Water Safety Congress in 2013 for their contributions to water safety issues and programs within a multi-state area.
  • In 2012, Stew and Kim Leonard were recognized with the Social Responsibility Award by the Yonkers Family YMCA.
  • Kim Leonard received The American Red Cross Tiffany Circle Award in 2009 for her work with Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation.
  • The National Drowning Prevention Alliance recognized Stew Leonard Jr. at their 2009 National Drowning Prevention Symposium for his advocacy in supporting community drowning prevention efforts and increasing education and awareness about children’s water safety.
  • In 2004, Stew and Kim Leonard were honored with the National Water Safety Education award from the National Water Safety Congress.
  • Stew and Kim Leonard received the Heroes Award from the Fairfield County, Connecticut Red Cross chapter in 2005.
  • USA Swimming honored the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation with the Safety Commendation Award at their annual Convention in 2000.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:                              

Write: 100 Westport Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851, Call: (347)385-1870 or email at

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Meghan Bell at 203.750.6107 or