water safety classes

How to Take Advantage of FREE Safety Around Water Classes with the YMCA

May is National Water Safety Month, and at the Tampa YMCA, we believe that everyone deserves access to water safety classes, no matter their circumstances.

Candice Dowling joined the Central City YMCA in May of 2022 to equip her children with lifesaving water safety skills through the Y’s free Safety Around Water Swim (SAW) lessons. Living near all the lakes, pools and rivers in Tampa Bay, Dowling was concerned about her two girls, Penelope and Daniella, being in a body of water and not knowing how to tread water or swim safely to shore.

“Learning to swim is a vital and necessary skill, especially when you live in Florida,” says Dowling. “We live on the river, and the sea wall does not have any barriers. I want to ensure my girls are prepared if they ever fell in!”

Lacey Boldman, senior director of Aquatics and Swim at the Central City YMCA shares that 69% of all drownings among children aged four and younger happen during non-swim times. Drownings kill more children ages 1-4 than any other cause, and drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths in this age group.”

Learning How to Swim with the YMCA

In 2022, 14,512 children learned to swim and be safe around water, which is critical considering more children under the age of 4 drown in Florida than anywhere else in the nation. The Y is committed to doing what it takes to ensure not one more child drowns in Tampa Bay.

Research shows that formal swim lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent. This spring, the Tampa Y will offer SAW lessons to all 3-12-year old beginners and non-swimmers in the Tampa Bay community.

How Safety Around Water lessons work

During the two-day course, certified instructors teach kids a sequenced set of skills that will reduce the risk of drowning and give them confidence in and around water. Each 40-minute class includes exercises to help kids adjust to being in the water. Kids learn “Jump, Push, Turn, Grab” and “Swim, Float, Swim,” two skill sets they can use if they unexpectedly find themselves in the water or in an area they cannot touch bottom. Additionally, specific safety topics are covered in each class including what to do if you see someone in the water who needs help.

Participants must be present on the first day of the class and bring their own swimsuit and towel. A YMCA membership is NOT required; however, due to limited space, pre-registration is required. If your child is unable to make it to our SAW classes, they can register and participate in summer swim lessons!

Please visit www.tampaymca.org to register your child or contact your local YMCA with any questions. We hope you join us for a class that will open a world of possibilities for all.

*Presented by Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA | Originally published in the May 2023 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.