As the Lowcountry warms up this spring, more of us will be returning to local waterways.

If you go

What: Lowcountry Splash benefiting the Logan Rutledge Foundation and the Lowcountry Aquatic Project Swimming program.

When: May 24. The 5-mile swim starts at 7:30 a.m. and the 2.4-mile swim at 8 a.m.

Where: The 5-mile starts at the Daniel Island Pier and the 2.4-mile starts at Hobcaw Yacht Club in Mount Pleasant. Both finish at the docks at Charleston Harbor Marina.

cost: $65 for the 5-mile swim. $55 for the 2.4-mile swim.

Get ready: Room is still available in a weekly swim camp designed for the Splash. Clinics are 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesdays at Danny Jones Swimming Pool, 1455 Monitor Street in North Charleston. $80.

More info:

And thanks to the efforts of the local, home-grown organization Lowcountry Aquatic Project Swimming, about 1,700 Charleston County youngsters are going to be safer in those waterways than they would have before.

In its second year, LAPS is not only providing swimming lessons and water safety to kindergarten and first graders at area Title I schools but making sure that they are proficient: 16 lessons in all and measuring progress.

LAPS works with the cities of Charleston and North Charleston and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, which has a portable pool, in using facilities for the lessons.

Still, the cost of paying instructors a nominal fee of $10 an hour, which helps retain consistency, and transportation amounts to about $150,000.

Swimming support

A big chunk of support comes via the Logan Rutledge Children's Foundation and the annual Lowcountry Splash Open Water Swim that funds it.

The 13th annual swimming event, which include 2.4-mile and 5-mile swims, will be May 24.

Last year, 390 finished the 2.4-mile swim and 107 completed the inaugural 5-mile swim.

Both events finish at the Charleston Harbor Marina docks in front of the aircraft carrier Yorktown.

Olympic inspiration

Earlier this month, on the eve of the 37th Cooper River Bridge Run, the efforts of LAPS and the Rutledge foundation were recognized by the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, which donated $500 to the foundation, and its guest speaker, Olympic gold- and silver-medal winning swimmer Cullen Jones.

Jones survived a near-drowning incident when he was five before learning to swim, later swimming for N.C. State University and becoming the third African-American to make the U.S. Olympic team.

On April 4, Jones met a few participants in LAPS, three children from Chicora Elementary School, and foundation founder Mark Rutledge.

Shannon Walsh O'Brien, program director for LAPS, hopes to bring Jones back to the Lowcountry in October to talk to children in the program.

Busy spring

In the meantime, she and others involve with LAPS will be busy with an array of activities designed to heighten awareness and excitement for its efforts.

On May 5, LAPS will work with the city of Charleston recreation department on celebrating National Otter Spotter Day, which involves a national water safety mascot, Josh the Otter, and the campaign's child-friendly swimming safety books.

Ten days later, LAPS and the city will celebrate International Water Safety Day in activities that have yet to be determined.

And on June 20, LAPS will work with the cities of Charleston and North Charleston, county PRC and the private LTP Swimming in Mount Pleasant to be part of the fifth annual World's Largest Swimming Lesson, which hopes to involve 100 million people with the message that "Swimming Lessons Save Lives."

Reach David Quick at 937-5516 or dquick@postand