Children enjoying water safety classes at the Tampa Y.

Stephen and his classmates learn to make strong kicks in the water.

Swimming is more than a recreational activity. It is a crucial life skill that can profoundly impact a child’s development. At the Tampa YMCA, we proudly provided over 350 children at our 11 locations with free Safety in Water lessons from March 11th-14th. The free four-day course was designed for beginners or non-swimmers ages 3-12. During the course, certified instructors taught children a sequence of skills to establish confidence in and around water and, ultimately, reduce the risk of drowning.  

Ayana Etienne and her three-year-old son Stephen joined 10 other children for the Safety in Water course at our Bob Sierra YMCA. Ayana says Stephen thoroughly enjoyed the lessons, but he was not a fan of getting his face wet!  

“Stephen cried almost every lesson, but the instructors were so kind and patient with him and the other children.” She adds, “I am grateful for this opportunity. I know he will wake up tomorrow and ask if he is going to the pool again.”  

Introducing children to swimming at a young age can instill a love for the water that lasts a lifetime. Whether swimming competitively, enjoying water sports or simply relaxing by the pool, the skills learned in swim lessons pave the way for a lifetime of enjoyment.

Kareem Kirby, the Bob Sierra YMCA’s Aquatics Director, shares, “Swim lessons are more than just a way for children to have fun in the water; they are a valuable investment in their safety, health, confidence and social development.”

Studies show that formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent, making this course a crucial resource for families and opening a world of possibilities for all!  

Last year, 13,108 children learned to swim and be safe in and around the water throughout the Tampa YMCA. This is especially important considering more children under the age of four 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.  

You can dive into the world of swim lessons and help a child make a splash as they learn and grow in the water!

Published Tuesday, March 19, 2024.