Free swimming classes for children aim to prevent drownings

Just in time for the fun-filled days of summer, the Everett and Mill Creek branches of the YMCA are offering free swimming lessons for kids ages 3 to 12 through a program aimed at reducing drownings.

The YMCA of Snohomish County is one of only 15 Y’s nationally awarded a swim safety grant of $25,000 from the national organization to cover the costs of the program.

In the four-year period ending in 2012, four people 18 or younger in Snohomish County drowned, according to the Snohomish Health District.

If children accidentally fall into water, mastery of skills like those taught in the classes “improves their chances of getting out of that trouble situation,” said Janette Parent, the local organization’s aquatics director. “It’s about minimizing drowning.”

The crucial skills include being able to bob to the surface and get a breath, leveling off in the water, floating on their back to catch their breath, and turning around to get back to a dock or the side of pool, Parent said.

Up to 450 children will be able to participate in 30-minute classes. At the Everett branch, classes start between July 30 and July 28. Classes offered at the Mill Creek branch begin either July 7 or July 8.

The classes will include helpful tips for parents. One of the most important is attentiveness when a child is in or near water, Parent said.

Many people incorrectly assume that if someone is at risk of drowning, they will thrash in the water and yell for help. “Most drownings are very silent,” Parent said.

One study found that 88 percent of children were being supervised at the time they drowned. Parents seem to underestimate the level of supervision they need to provide. They think that simply being nearby is enough, instead of being in the water so they can reach a child immediately, according to a study about drowning published last year by the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

Free swim classes

Free swim classes for children from 3 to 12 years old will be offered at the Everett and Mill Creek branches of the YMCA of Snohomish County.

Registration must be in person. The Mill Creek branch is at 13723 Puget Park Drive, Everett. The Everett branch is at 2720 Rockefeller Ave. More information is available at tinyurl.com/YMCAswimsafety or by contacting Janette Parent, aquatics director, at parent@ymca-snoco.org.

Free swim-class schedule

Mill Creek YMCA

July 7-31, Mondays and Thursdays: 12:30 or 1 p.m.

July 7-30, Mondays and Wednesdays: 4, 4:30 or 5 p.m.

July 8-Aug. 1, Tuesdays and Fridays: 12:30 or 1 p.m.

July 8-31,Tuesdays and Thursdays: 5:15, 5:45 or 6:15 p.m.

Everett YMCA

June 30-July 10, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays: 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.

June 30-July 23, Mondays and Wednesdays: 4:15 or 4:45 p.m.

July 1-24, Tuesdays and Thursdays: 4:15 or 4:45 p.m.

July 14-24, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays: 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.

July 28-Aug. 7, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays: 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.

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