While it the snow continues to fall all around us, the Y is already preparing for the warmer weather. Summertime means pool and beach time for many kids and adults, and as you venture to your favorite spots to swim, play and create lasting memories, we want to remind swimmers to practice safety when in or around the water.
“Swimming is the most important skill children learn living in these coastal communities,” says Susan Guertin, Aquatics Director at the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA. “So many activities that families take part in are in or around the water.”
With this in mind, the Aquatics Directors across our association came together to refresh our youth and teen swim lesson program. The new lesson structure focuses on swimming as a progression. Specific skills are introduced each week to provide both variety and continuity. Instructors are trained to evaluate each child and teen’s current level for each skill and teach the next step in the swimming progression. This format of individualized feedback and instruction results in rapid skill advancement.
The Spring I session, which starts March 2nd, will mark the start of these new swim programs association wide. With summer just a few months away, there has never been a better time to start swim lessons.
“At a minimum, you should be able to swim 100 yards without stopping to be considered safe,” says Charity Lezama, Senior Program Director at the Salem YMCA. “While swimming can be scary at first, the benefits of sticking with the program are worth it. The Y's trained instructors provide a safe environment to take chances and learn the skills that could prove to be lifesaving one day.”
Ashley Osburn, Aquatics Director at the Ipswich Family Y agrees, ”For a family just starting out in swim lessons I would say learning to swim is a great skill and takes time to master, but our lessons incorporate not only progressive swim skills but aspects of safety and fun! Beginners should know it’s about trying new things.”
Swimming is the second leading type of accident in the USA because unsafe practices were used - either swimming or diving in an area that was unsafe, swimming in a pool that is not being watched or swimming beyond one's capacity. And while safety is definitely the biggest reason children need to know how to swim, it’s also a great way to exercise and have fun as a family.
“We try to instill a sense of community in our program,” says Ashley. “Also it is a great way for families to interact with one another, whether sitting in the bleachers and watching lessons chatting with other parents or participating in parent/child swim lessons. It seems like everyone by the second week has already become friendly with one another. Everyone starts routing for each other’s children. Whether it’s their first time jumping off the diving board or going down the slide, the whole stand applauds, which is always an exciting moment.”
And, being the Y, that sense of community and connection stays for years and years to come. “The child who comes into baby class at 6 months, goes through Y Swim Lessons, becomes a member of the Y Swim Team, excels in swimming, becomes a lifeguard, swims for their local High School, works for the Y, goes off to college, comes back and works summers…” says Susan. “And those kids eventually get married, have a family of their own, and then bring their children in for lessons. We have gone in a full circle so many, many times.”
With an essential skill like swimming, children and families can be confident around the water and enjoy their time together even more. Whether for safety, fitness or just for fun, swimming lessons are so important for every child and teen to take part in at some point in their lives. No matter what age or ability, the Y is here to help you and your child learn to swim.
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