YMCA swim instructor Olivia Beatty smiles as Claire Lawson, 4, successfully swims on her own to the wall during Swim-a-palooza, a free swim lesson session, at Mill Creek Family YMCA on Saturday, May 18, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

YMCA swim instructor Olivia Beatty smiles as Claire Lawson, 4, successfully swims on her own to the wall during Swim-a-palooza, a free swim lesson session, at Mill Creek Family YMCA on Saturday, May 18, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Splish splash! YMCA hosts free swim lessons around Snohomish County

The Y is building a “whole community” of water safety. On Saturday, kids got to dip their toes in the water as the first step on that journey.

MILL CREEK — A dozen preschoolers lined up next to the pool at the Mill Creek Family YMCA on Saturday afternoon.

Wearing bedazzled pink goggles, Claire, 4, just returned from vacation — and was ready to hit the water again.

“She spent a lot of time in the pool, she thinks she’s pretty hot stuff,” her father Chris Lawson said. “It’s her favorite place to be in the summer.”

YMCA of Snohomish County held its first Swim-a-Palooza, a one-day free swim lesson for kids aged 3 to 12 at five locations to promote National Water Safety Month. With summer right around the corner, the YMCA’s Director of Aquatic Advancement Tom Wunderlich said water safety skills are crucial to teach as young as possible.

Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death around the world. The highest rates of drowning are in children 1 to 4 years old.

“Where we live, we got water everywhere,” Wunderlich said. “As soon as the weather gets nice out, the beaches are full, the rivers are full, and you got a whole bunch of people who don’t understand the importance of being safe.”

The preschoolers were the first students of the day in Mill Creek. Instructors carried them to the water one by one, testing how well they could float on their backs.

“What we teach a preschooler, is the exact same thing we teach a school-aged child,” Wunderlich said. “It’s all building blocks. We start out very, very simple.”

The Y swimming curriculum begins with water adjustment, how to climb in and out of the pool and blowing bubbles under water, Wunderlich said.

“This is all for comfort and community, in order to get kids into learn and have a good time and have fun, they have to have a sense of trust and faith in the people they’re with,” Wunderlich said.

Braxton, 3, sat shyly on the pool’s edge, kicking his feet in the water. His mom, Ev Lovell, said his older brother is the better swimmer in the family.

“Hopefully my son gets more used to the water,” Lovell said with a chuckle. “He likes the jacuzzi more.”

At the end of the lesson, swimmers got fitted for free life jackets to take home. Parents joined their kids in the water for an open swim.

“We’re creating a whole environment, a whole community of kids that understand the values of being safe but having fun at the same time,” Wunderlich said.

YMCA of Snohomish County hosts swim lessons year-round, starting for kids as young as six months. In June, the organization is hosting a two-week Safety Around Water education program for ages 3 to 12.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434; maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

A house fire seriously injured two people Friday evening, June 14, in Edmonds, Washington. (Courtesy of South County Fire.)
1 killed, 1 with life-threatening injuries in Edmonds house fire

South County Fire crews pulled the man and woman from the burning home around 6 p.m. Friday, near 224th Street SW and 72nd Place W.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Hidden costs, delays crush hopeful food truck owners in Snohomish County

Melinda Grenier followed her dream to open Hay Girl Coffee. Thousands in fees later, it has cost her more than she bargained for.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Lynnwood
New Jersey auto group purchases Lynnwood Lexus dealership land

Holman, which owns Lexus of Seattle in Lynnwood, bought property on which the dealership resides.

Marvin Arellano (Photo provided)
Family: ‘Manic episode’ preceded trooper shooting man on I-5 near Everett

“It’s very, very unfortunate how he was portrayed in his final moments,” Gilbert Arellano said. “He was just such a good person.”

Two visitors comb the beach at Kayak Point Regional County Park on Friday, June 14, 2024, in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Kayak Point reopens ahead of schedule

The county’s most popular park reopened Friday.

Grauates throw their caps in the air at the end of Arlington High School graduation at Angel of the Winds Arena on Thursday, June 13, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘So worth it’: Snohomish County graduates step into their futures

Alyssa Acosta, who is Harvard-bound, was one of thousands to walk the stage at Angel of the Winds Arena this month to get high school diplomas.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.