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YMCA Encourages Swimming & Water Safety

Summer is now in full swing and the 4th of July is upon us.  Lots of summer fun to be had and that includes water fun.  Swim experts at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids say make sure you pay attention while out near the water.  They add, if you don’t know how to swim, there’s still time to learn. 

A good part of summer play is hanging out by the pool or at the lake.  And while there’s lots of fun to be had, there are also areas of concern, like water safety.  And drownings.

“It is the second leading cause of accidental death in kids under age four. And we average about 27-28 drowning deaths a year in the state of Michigan.”

Becky Haveman is the Association Director of Aquatics and Safety at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids.  She says throughout the summer, the Y is providing scholarships for swim instruction and water safety to underserved communities in the Grand Rapids area.

“So this year, we are able to help 550 kids.  We focus on key safety pieces, including jump, push, turn , grab.  With the idea that if they fall into the water that they turn around and grab the edge again. Because we do know that most drownings occur within ten feet of safety.  And the second piece, is swim float, swim.”

And, Becky adds another note of caution for parents with kids at play in the water.  88 percent of children who did drown were under some form of supervision.

“But even, I want to emphasize if a kid does know how to swim they are not drown proof or water proof.  We still need to as parents or caregivers be watching them and be very cognizant of our kids in the water.  Not texting or being on our phones, or cooking. It’s quiet.  They’re not able to call for help.”

Becky says teaching children to swim is one of the most important life skills parents can offer their children.  She says there are still at least 100 spots available through the grant for kids to learn how to swim. And even if you don’t use the grant, she says kids of all ages can still learn.

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.