SARASOTA, FL – Southwest Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, lakes, rivers and plentiful swimming pools and spas. These abundant waters present imminent danger for children who do not swim well. In 2017, Florida was first in the nation with 51 fatal child drownings in a pool or spa for children ages 15 and younger. Florida’s grim total is twice that of the states tied for second: Arizona and Texas, with 25.
Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14, with children from communities of color at greatest risk. With National Water Safety Month in May and summer right around the corner, now is a crucial time for parents to remember the importance equipping children with essential water safety skills. The Sarasota YMCA offers numerous swim lessons and water safety classes to reduce the risk of childhood drowning, help kids develop a lifelong love swimming, and provide children from under-served communities greater access to water safety programs.
Locally, the Sarasota YMCA offers a year-round aquatics program that includes swim lessons for all ages – as young as 6 months to as old as an adult who wishes for greater confidence in the water might be. Swim programs are offered at the Sarasota YMCA’s Frank G. Berlin, Sr. and Evalyn Sadlier Jones branches five days per week (all but Fridays and Sundays).
Financial assistance is available for those with a need for swim lessons who are unable to afford them. Thanks to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, over the course of the school year, every second-grader in the Sarasota County School District is bused to the YMCA for a week of group swim lessons during the school day. Students with an additional need have access to further free instruction. Additionally, the Sarasota YMCA applies annually for grants from the YMCA of the USA for scholarships for swim lessons.
According to the USA Swimming Foundation, formal swimming lessons can reduce the likelihood of drowning by as much as 88 percent.
The Sarasota YMCA designed a specialized program to help children of all skill levels improve swim proficiency and water safety. Instructors use the American Red Cross Swim Lessons and the Y-USA Safety Around Water curriculum, with a class format designed to help participants achieve maximum success based on a swim progression method to develop knowledge of water safety, survival, swimming skills and techniques. This ensures that children know what to do if they are in the water without adequate supervision.
“Swim lessons will not only help children survive in the water but also enable them to enjoy a common, affordable and easy source of fun,” said Sarasota YMCA aquatics director Lauran DeLagrange. “Swimming is a necessary skill for children to have – particularly in the Sunshine State – and can be valuable and enjoyable throughout their entire lives. We strongly encourage parents and guardians to ensure their children are able to swim and have been instructed on safety measures around the water.”
For more information, contact DeLagrange at (941) 544-1780 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to sarasotaymca.org/aquatics.
About the Sarasota YMCA
The Sarasota YMCA is committed to strengthening the community: through youth development by nurturing the potential of every child and teen, through healthy living by improving the community’s health and well-being, and through social responsibility by giving back and providing support to our neighbors. For more information, visit sarasotaymca.org or call (941) 951-2916.