EVERETT — Thanks to the YMCA, about 20 children on Casino Road are more comfortable in the pool this year.
For the second summer, the Y has offered free swimming lessons at south Everett apartments to reach more families. The effort started after 9-year-old Ariel Jasso-Aranda drowned in a pool in June 2016.
The following August, the Y gave eight classes at the Arterra apartments, where Ariel lived with his family. A second round took place last week at the Crystal Springs apartments. Ages ranged from 3 to 12.
The Y hopes to expand the program, though that requires persuading apartment complex owners and managers. Some buildings only allow tenants to swim.
Children drown every year in Snohomish County’s pools, rivers and lakes, as well as Puget Sound. Drownings can be silent and occur even when adults are nearby. Safety experts recommend constant supervision, as well as life jackets in outdoor environments. Kids shouldn’t swim in the county’s fast-moving, glacier-fed rivers.
Swimming lessons are a prevention measure, said Carl Funnell, the aquatics director for the Mukilteo branch. In addition to being a basic life skill, swimming can bring kids into another form of recreation, exercise and teamwork, he said.
The lessons on Casino Road were a chance to get the word out about the aquatic offerings at the Y, Funnell said. Swim lessons and swim team were an important part of childhood for him and many others. Family economics aren’t supposed to be a barrier.
“If you don’t learn to swim, most people become very afraid of the water,” Funnell said. “Being able to conquer that fear and overcome it, that’s amazing.”
After the lessons at Arterra, the Y heard from mothers who wanted to learn as well. A class was added for adults who are Spanish speakers.
A little research can turn up free or low-cost swim lessons around the county, especially at pools owned by local governments and nonprofits.
Swim lessons often start in June. However, “there is no such thing as too late,” Funnell said. “August isn’t too late. September isn’t too late.”
Drowning is silent.
Constant supervision is key.
Know your limits. No matter how good a swimmer you are, it is easy to misjudge the water or your skills.
Local lakes and rivers are cold. A calm surface can conceal dangerous undercurrents, rocks and tree branches. Local rivers are not safe for swimming.
Wear a life jacket.
Learn CPR. If something happens, call 911 quickly and know your location.
Life jacket loaner cabinet locations are Martha Lake, Twin Lakes, Lake Tye, Wenberg County Park, Lake Goodwin, Silver Lake, Wyatt Park, the downtown Lake Stevens boat launch, Flowing Lake and Dagmars Marina. Fire departments with loaner life jackets include Index, Marysville, Monroe and Sultan. Dagmars also has a cabinet. For more information, go to www.providence.org/nw-safekids or call 425-261-3047.