YMCA: Take an active role in your kids’ relationship with the water

5 mins read

As part of National Water Safety Month in May, the Beaufort-Jasper YMCA of the Lowcountry and the Wardle Family YMCA in Port Royal encourage parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming — beginning with water safety. The following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:

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

— Adults should constantly and actively watch their children.

— Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

— Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach.

— Children and adults should not engage in breath holding activities.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, swimming is a great way to increase physical activity. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem.

“It’s never too early to get children involved in swimming—it’s an important for safety reasons, but also a great way to keep active and healthy,” Wardle Family YMCA aquatics director Lou Bergen said in a release. “In fact, newer studies show that children as young as 1-year-old can benefit from formal swim lessons. There are so many options for parents, but the best place to start is by learning basic water safety skills that helps get kids familiar with the water that often continues with swim lessons and competitive swim programs and can even lead to a career.”

Kids are not the only age-group that should learn to swim. The Lowcountry is 51 percent marsh, river and ocean — the ‘land’ is quite literally surrounded by water — so it is obvious that learning how to swim well is a necessity for adults as well as kids. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of adults in the United States can’t swim the length of a pool, which puts them at risk of being 1 of the 10 people who drown every day in the U.S.

In 2018 the Wardle Family Y taught over 7,000 swim sessions to local kids and adults, over half for free or at a reduced cost. This is made possible through donations to the YMCA Annual Scholarship campaign, the Y Learn to Swim program, grants and funds raised at the Beaufort River Swim, which is coming up on Saturday May 18. This 3.2–mile competitive water swim and 1-mile fun swim is now in its 13th year and is the only open water swim in Beaufort County.

As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, the Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety locally for more than 23 years. The Wardle Family YMCA continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose, including:

— Age group lessons including parent/child and private swim lessons.

— Lap swimming.

— (BYAC) Tiger Sharks Swim Team with 3 levels of teams members (Shark Pups, TigerSharks Level 1, & TigerSharks Level 2).

— Water aerobics group exercises classes. 

— Fluid Fitness (work out ON the water!). 

— Aqua Camp (specialty summer camp).

— Lifeguard Training.

— Masters Swim.

— 100-Mile Swim Club.

— Scuba.

To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, financial assistance is available. To learn more about Wardle Family YMCA swim programs, please contact Lou Bergen at 843-522-9622 ext. 236 or l.bergen@wardlefamilyymca.org

To learn more about the Beaufort River Swim, contact event director Denice Fanning at 843-522-9622,  ext. 223 or d.fanning@wardlefamilymca.org.

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