Hormel Foundation Grant offers area 4th graders swim lessons

Published 9:06 am Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Austin YMCA recently helped teach area youths learn how to swim. Photo Provided

The Austin YMCA recently helped teach area youths learn how to swim. Photo Provided

This September, with the benefit of a Hormel Foundation Grant, the YMCA of Austin was able to offer a session of eight swim lessons for the fourth grade students at Sumner Elementary school during their 15 day break this fall. The YMCA has had a “repurpose swim suits” drive since the end of summer – which helped any student who didn’t have a suit receive a swim suit.

“We wanted no obstacles for the fourth graders,” Aquatic Director Cindy Bowe said.

Thirty-seven students participated and at the start of the eight classes, four students could swim a length of the Y pool. By the end we had over 20 children actually swimming 25 yards and the others were doing short swims. All jumped into the deep end of the pool.

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Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children under 14 years old. Swimming is a lifelong skill — everyone should know how to swim a distance to at least save themselves. The YMCA of Austin offers year round swim lessons — starting with our parent/child classes for those 6 months and up, our preschool levels and finally our school aged classes. The Y offers financial assistance for children and families. We don’t turn anyone away.

The Y is a leading nonprofit for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Here are several water safety tips:

— Only swim when and where there is lifeguard on duty; never swim alone.

— Be aware swim tests are for a child’s safety — if they aren’t strong swimmers they should remain in water where they can stand easily.

— Adults should constantly watch children in and near the water. If multiple adults are in the vicinity, designate a “water watcher” so everyone knows who is “on duty.”

— Inexperienced swimmers should take precaution and wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) when in, on or around the water.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates each year nearly 300 children younger than 5 drown in swimming pools and spas and more than 3,000 that age go to hospital emergency rooms due to non-fatal submersion injuries.

An unknown number of these hospitalizations result in permanent disability, including brain damage. These deaths and injuries are preventable.”

“One of the best ways to protect our children is having them learn to swim,” the recent Pool Safety Campaign states. “Like all of us, some children love the water and others don’t like the prospect of swimming — like learning to read, it’s a life skill we all need. If you have one of those children who protests about taking swimming lessons, encourage them and make learning to swim a fun thing. Remember you wouldn’t give in about “I don’t want to read,” so don’t give in about “I don’t want to swim.” It could save their life — don’t let you child become a statistic.

We have lessons beginning in December on Tuesday and Thursday and our once per week classes on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday have a new session which begins in January. Don’t overlook giving your child swim lessons.