As America’s leading swim instructor, the YMCA has been promoting water safety for more than 100 years. Accidental drowning is the leading cause of death in children one to four years old, and the second leading cause of death in children five to 14 years old.
Teaching children how to be safe around water is not a luxury, it is a necessity. And the YMCA is doing everything it can to ensure everyone remains safe.
This year alone, more than 2,200 children went through the Safety Around Water program at the branches of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. This program works with kids in second through fifth grades to teach basic water safety. The program is offered at no cost to the children or their families. Led by trained YMCA staff, kids learn water essentials, such as what to do if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly and how to assist or get help if they see someone else struggling in the water.
The YMCA partners with more than 10 local school districts, as well as some churches and private schools, to bring children onsite for this program. They hope to expand the program by working with all Chester County school districts. Also, many generous sponsors – including WSFS, NSM, Oxford Plumbing and Heating, Phillips Mushrooms, James Hamilton, and Hostetter Grain – help to make this program possible.
This year, at the Jennersville YMCA, one second-grader’s story illustrated the reason the YMCA undertakes these efforts. The child’s mother explained to YMCA staff that her son had recently had a near drowning experience, and this was his first time in the water since then.
Despite his fear, he tried everything during the program; and on the program’s last day, one of the instructors, who had seen the child’s ability grow, challenged him to jump into water that was more than four feet deep, turn around, and reach for the wall without assistance. You could see his hesitation, but also his courage. On the first try, he jumped in and never let go of the wall. But, on the second try, he didn’t hold back. He jumped in, turned around, and climbed out of the pool completely on his own.
Learning to be safe around water is just as important as learning to swim. Once many children finish the YMCA’s Safety Around Water program, they go on to take swimming lessons. The YMCA’s progressive swim lessons – which teach swimming skills, stroke technique, and water safety – are also led by trained YMCA staff. More than 6,200 children and adults have completed swim lessons through the branches of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine in the last year.
There are classes for everyone, from infants to adults, and every ability, from beginner to pre-swim team. The YMCA introduced the concept of group swimming lessons in 1901, and since then has taught more than a million children invaluable water safety and swimming skills each year.
As one of the largest community-based organizations in the country, the YMCA owns or manages more than 2,000 swimming pools, making it the most accessible community resource for swim lessons and water safety. Registration for the next session of swim lessons at the branches of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine begins on Oct. 20. Click here for information.
The YMCA is also a leader in competitive swimming. Competitive swim teams have been integral to the YMCA for more than 100 years, with the first national YMCA swimming records being filed in 1907. The YMCA’s nationally recognized competitive swim teams develop strong swimmers and even better leaders. Click here to learn more about YMCA swim teams.