Alexis Song leads her swim safety lessons Thursday afternoon at the Lynnwood Recreation Center. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Alexis Song leads her swim safety lessons Thursday afternoon at the Lynnwood Recreation Center. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Here’s where kids can learn an essential life skill — for free

One way to prevent drownings is to teach kids to swim, and a health agency will cover the cost.

LYNNWOOD — Everyone should know how to swim before they graduate high school, according to Bill Haugen, the aquatics manager at the Lynnwood Recreation Center.

Still, drowning is one of the biggest dangers facing children and teens, especially in a region with so much recreation focused on the water. Many public and nonprofit groups throughout Snohomish County offer swim lessons for free or at a discount.

That includes the Verdant Health Commission, a public agency and hospital district that shares much of its service area with the Edmonds School District.

“By teaching children to swim, we can help prevent drownings,” said Robin Fenn, Verdant’s superintendent.

Verdant is offering up to 30 free beginning swim lessons to every third-grader in the Edmonds district. All other students there can get a free assessment of their skills.

“If they don’t know how to swim, we will also cover those other grades,” Fenn said.

On June 21, the Lynnwood Recreation Center hosted what was billed as the “world’s largest swim lesson.” Similar events were held around the globe. Lynnwood’s promoted the local vouchers for students.

Alexis Song holds Marcus Reese during swim safety lessons Thursday afternoon at the Lynnwood Recreation Center. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Alexis Song holds Marcus Reese during swim safety lessons Thursday afternoon at the Lynnwood Recreation Center. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

About 128 people got in the water here, and at least nine walked away with vouchers from Verdant for free follow-up sessions, Haugen said.

“Really awesome community connections were made,” he said.

This is the seventh year the Lynnwood center has offered some kind of voucher program for swimming lessons, he said. Staff also go into local schools to pitch water safety, bringing along their mascot, Clark the Shark.

Verdant’s program also extends to some pools in Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Shoreline. As of June 22, at least 154 of the vouchers have been redeemed.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @rikkiking.

Swimming lessons

Southwest county:

For more information about swimming lessons through the Verdant Health Commission, including vouchers, contact the following participating pools. Verdant serves about 185,000 people in south county, with similar boundaries to the Edmonds School District. The vouchers run year-round.

  • Dale Turner Family YMCA in Shoreline and Yost Pool in Edmonds: 206-363-0446.
  • Lynnwood Recreation Center: 425-670-5732.
  • Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion: 425-776-9173, Ext. 0.

Around the county:

  • Snohomish County Parks has a sponsorship program that includes swim lessons at McCollum Park, based on funding and family need. More info: 425-388-6604.
  • Many area YMCAs offer a “Safety Around Water” program, with eight lessons for $16. Sessions are under way or planned at the Everett, Mill Creek, Monroe and Stanwood-Camano branches. They are open to to the public. More info:
  • In addition, the Mukilteo Y is looking to partner with apartment complexes on Casino Road again to offer free swim lessons to residents. More info: 425-493-2420.
  • Everett: The city parks department offers scholarships for swim lessons for low-income households. More info: 425-257-8300 Ext. 2,
  • Snohomish: The Snohomish School District offers a free session of swim lessons to every second-grader in the district. More info:, 360-568-8030.

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