The upcoming three-day weekend will be a busy one for families, especially at North Texas lakes and pools.
Memorial Day weekend is essentially the start of the busy summer swim season.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas is hoping to connect with parents this weekend to help prevent accidental drowning.
On Saturday, nearly a dozen locations across North Texas will be holding a free swim assessment open house for families to make sure they’re ready for the summer.
Staff members will examine an individual’s swimming skills. If an individual does not “pass” the assessment, staff will be able to provide information about classes that are right for them and their children.
“We’ll let you know what level of swimming lessons they should register in. We’re also giving away 100 free sessions of swimming lessons,” said Jennifer Pewitt, VP of Aquatics for the YMCA of Metro Dallas. “They can begin in swim classes at as young as three without a parent.”
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at any YMCA of Metro Dallas location, with the exception of Park South Family YMCA, which will operate from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parents can sign up at ymcadallas.org/swim.
The YMCA also offers financial aid for families who need a little extra help in getting swim lessons for children.
“The Y believes that every child deserves the opportunity to learn to swim. So we do have financial assistance that’s available at every single YMCA. You just have to visit us and we will not turn you away for your inability to pay for the lessons,” said Pewitt.
SUMMER SAFETY TIPS
Across the country, drowning is the second cause of death in preschoolers. The YMCA wants to drop that statistic by getting as many kids as possible enrolled in swimming lessons and educating parents.
“The CDC says that formal swimming lessons reduce the child’s risk of drowning by 88%,” said Pewitt. “So we suggest that all preschoolers be enrolled in formal swimming lessons.”
While swim lessons are important, so is the attentiveness and watchful eye of adults – which the Y is hopeful guardians will remember this weekend.
“The most important message for parents is that you have to closely supervise your kids any time you swim. That means you should always designate a water watcher and someone should be watching the water,” said Pewitt. “Drowning is very common. It happens quickly. It’s silent and the best way to protect your child from drowning is close supervision and then also teaching your child to swim.”
Guardians should also be aware of the children’s swimming abilities.
“If you’re going to swim in a pool, make sure that your child has the ability to swim. If they don’t, we suggest they’re in a Coast Guard-approved flotation device,” said Pewitt.
Many North Texans will be hitting the lakes this weekend, which carry their own set of dangers for both kids and adults.
“If you’re in a lake, you’re in a river, or you’re in an ocean — our sense is that your child and yourself should be in a coast guard approved flotation device,” said Pewitt.
SAFETY AROUND WATER
Meantime, the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas is able to expand its Safety Around Water lessons this year after receiving a gift of $92,425 from POOLCORP, one of the largest wholesale distributors of swimming pool equipment, parts and supplies, and related outdoor living products.
The company teamed up with select YMCAs from across the nation to cover the costs of swim lessons for children and support lifeguard training to individuals who may not otherwise have access.
The Dallas Y’s SAW program teaches more than 3,000 children life-saving skills every year, and hyper-focuses on communities from low-income neighborhoods, consisting almost exclusively of apartment complexes where the need is most critical.
The funds from POOLCORP will directly benefit more than 200 Y campers throughout North Texas.
“This donation comes at a pivotal moment since summer is the busiest time of year in all area pools, making the danger of drowning even more prevalent. We have to be strategic with every decision we make to ensure our Safety Around Water program continues to see high rates of success,” says Curt Hazelbaker, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. “We know this incredible gift provided by POOLCORP will have a significant impact and will further support our commitment to eliminate childhood drowning in North Texas.”