The death of a four year old Sturbridge boy in 2007 is at the center of a decision by the Dartmouth Recreation Department to suspend it's nearly forty year old Summer swimming program.

Massachusetts law now requires new equipment and staff for municipal and recreational programs and camps that teach kids to swim in the ocean. The Dartmouth Recreation Department says it cannot afford to buy the Coast Guard approved flotation devices or hire trained personnel to determine which young potential swimmers have the skills required and those who do not.  Those who lack the skills would be segregated and supervised in areas designed especially for them. The law applies to the open ocean as well as other large open bodies of water.  It does not apply to pools or artificial bodies of water. Officials tell us you cannot properly teach a child how to swim when it is wearing a flotation device.

The Dartmouth Recreation Department has taught scores of kids how to swim over decades but Christian's Law, named for Christian Frechette, who died while not wearing a flotation device at a summer camp run by the Sturbridge Recreation Department in 2007 has changed all that. The law, signed by then Governor Deval Patrick was enacted in 2012 and comes with no funding to ease it's implementation

Massachusetts has a long shoreline and many lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Our kids need to learn life saving skills such as swimming and to make it financially impossible for small budgeted recreation departments to be able to afford to provide swimming lessons is absurd.  This policy needs to be reconsidered.