LILLIAN A. SALISBURY
2011 INDUCTION TO THE RHODE ISLAND AQUATIC HALL OF FAME
Lillian Salisbury resided in Cranston next to the Pawtuxet River; and at this time prior to WWII, there were no formal or informal swimming or lifesaving instructions available to most of the public. In 1945, she was given the opportunity to attend the American Red Cross Aquatic School, at Camp Kiwanis in South Hansen, Massachusetts. Upon successful completion of their Water Safety Instructors Schools and Certified Lifeguard programs, she decided to share her new skills by teaching water safety and beginning swimming to the local children in the Village of Hope at Hope Pond in Scituate Rhode Island.
Lillian began by posting notices in the local post office announcing that lessons would be available for beginners at designated times and her program became an instant hit with the community and those who wanted to learn to swim! With the end of WWII, many returning war veterans assisted her platform by supplying the skills and manpower to transform the swimming area into a much larger and efficient waterfront. Lillian’s staff eventually included four instructors, four aids, 2 lifeguards and over 100 children. Due to the demand and overwhelming success, Lillian renewed her teaching certificates in 1948, 1951, 1956, and 1960.
From 1945 through 1966, Lillian Salisbury was now the driving force behind the Hope Pond Operation for teaching and instruction. Lillian not only fostered swimming and water safety in RI, but taught each lifeguard and instructor supervisory skills and responsibility as well. Lillian continued to teach all levels of Red Cross Swimming Instruction and began building a summer recreation program. The swimming classes ranged from beginners to life saving and on to water safety aide classes and training. The number of students grew from 50 to an average of 150 to 175 a year. Countless numbers of these students continued on to become certified Rhode Island Lifeguards as well water safety instructors and worked at “The Pond”, as well as at other venues in the state. Eventually, Lillian became the Waterfront Director with the responsibility of the development, supervision, and planning of the summer water program. This program has since become incorporated into the Scituate Recreation Program. Lillian also established a synchronized swim program for women and upon each year’s water program conclusion, each group of swimmers needed to demonstrate their learned skills in order to receive their certification cards.
In 1965, Lillian began an affiliation with the Rhode Island Aquatics Association when her children began to swim competitively. She became an assistant coach with Leo Sarchione and trained the youngest swimmers in the small pool at Park View Junior High School. Her children and grandchildren were involved in AAU, competitive swimming for the RI Aquatics Association, the Cranston and Smithfield YMCA, Western Hills Middle School, Cranston High School-West, Little Rhody Aquatic Club and Keene State College. Lillian continued to assist the club as an assistant coach and timer until 1970.
Due to her experience, reputation and dedication, Lillian was called upon to be a consultant again from 1988-1992 to revitalize the program she founded in 1945. Lillian accepted the challenge and returned the program to its former level of excellence where it remains today! Lillian’s selfless dedication to RI Swimming and water safety covered 54 years of impeccable service to many, many children that have benefitted from her instructions still to this day!