Imagine being afraid of water. Imagine not being able to enjoy activities many of us take for granted. Imagine not being able to save your own life or the lives of your loved ones in a crisis.
The YMCAs in the Triangle are working to change that for our community.
The Swim for Life program began at the Alexander Family YMCA on Hillsborough Street in March 2011. The program provides evening swim lessons at no cost to qualifying families of all ages during three sessions throughout the year. The next session runs Aug. 20-24, is available to swimmers of all ages and levels, and is run by both YMCA staffers and community volunteers.
The program focuses on basic swim strokes & skills, how to tread water and how to float, making water activities a safer and more enjoyable experience for families here in Raleigh.
For mom and participant, Cindy Hicks, that lesson is something that she is so glad to have had, not just for herself but for her children.
“Swim for Life was great to be able to teach me to be more comfortable in the water,” Hicks said. “The instructors are great and are very patient…I think everybody should learn how to swim because you never know if that moment is going to come that you need it.”
Hicks and her children have participated in both swim lessons and the Swim for Life program at the Y, and continue progressing into stronger skill-level groups.
“My kids learned how to swim at the Y and I wanted to learn as well,” Hicks added. “Swim for Life is a free program that gives you the techniques to at least get comfortable in the water.”
Swim for Life doesn’t happen without community support. Funding comes the YMCA’s Annual Campaign and through the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash grant. Money, however, is only one component.
Louis Stamm, who used to swim competitively and had his first job as an instructor for non-swimmers at 14, is a member of the Y. Now, he has returned to the pool to help teach others to swim once again, working primarily with kids and non-swimmers.
“I’ve been volunteering with the program since the first group came through here,” Stamm remembered. “We get them used to the water, get them comfortable in the water and get them basic survival skills. I just want to make sure they are safe.”
Both Hicks and Stamm agreed that participants should come into the program open minded. If they do that, they’ll walk away with a great life skill…and great memories.
For more information on the Swim for Life program, please visit YMCATriangle.org.
Alexander Family YMCA
1603 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27605