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From fear to confidence: Making waves in swim safety

ODESSA, Texas – Last summer, Ashley Vasquez had one of those heart-pounding moments no parent ever wants to experience.

Her then 5-year-old daughter, Joslyn, dove into the deep end of a swimming pool without a swim vest. As Joslyn struggled to keep her head above water, Ashley jumped in the water and brought her daughter to safety.

Today, Joslyn is taking swimming lessons at the Odessa YMCA to avoid a similar incident, thanks to Phillips 66. Also taking swim lessons: siblings Jordyn, 14, and Jayden, 11.

“It was a scary situation,” said Ashley. “Summer’s here. My kids get invited to swimming parties. I want that peace of mind knowing that they’ll be OK.”

The Vasquezes are one of hundreds of families benefitting from swim safety programs this summer, courtesy of Phillips 66. Continuing a 50-year tradition of sponsoring water safety, the company has donated $500,000 in 2024 to support programs in communities where its employees live and work.

“Safety is a core value for Phillips 66, at our facilities and also in our communities,” said Courtney Meadows, manager of Social Impact at Phillips 66. “Our focus on swimming has for years allowed us to help children stay safe and enjoy the water. We’re thrilled to see our program flourishing.”

At the Wood River Refinery in Roxana, Illinois, Phillips 66 hosted a “Splash into Summer” swim safety fair. At the Bayway Refinery in Linden, New Jersey, the company is underwriting swimming lessons for over 200 low- and moderate-income youth at a local YMCA. 

In the Permian Basin, where Phillips 66 is building a large-scale wellhead-to-market natural gas liquids business, the company is expanding its swim-safety presence. There, Phillips 66 donated $115,000 to the Odessa and Midland YMCAs and Odessa College.

“We’re proud to collaborate with local organizations to provide free and reduced-cost swimming programs for our neighbors in Midland and Odessa who may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn these lifesaving skills,” said Eric Edens, area operations manager for Phillips 66.

Aiming to save 6,600 lives, the Odessa YMCA is creating a Pool 66 program that includes 660 free swim lessons and free monthly Phillips 66 Saves Lives Safety Around Water classes.

The Midland YMCA will take its Safety Around Water program into the community by offering classes at HOAs and apartment complexes. And Odessa College will provide free lessons, free pool rentals and lifeguard hours for community partners such as the Odessa Boys and Girls Club and Casa De Amigos.

That resonates with parents like Vasquez. “I feel like it’s important for my kids to learn the proper techniques to keep them safe in the water,” she said.

Watch the video for more on Phillips 66’s water safety program in West Texas.