By Janee Law
With the summer season rolling in the YMCA of Long Island has partnered with Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities to promote the importance of safe swimming with the seventh annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson.
“I hope that our families realize how important it is to keep our kids safe and recognize the importance of swimming as it relates to preventing drowning,” Anne Brigis, president and CEO of YMCA Long Island, said. “I hope that we’re able to teach some skills that provide some tips, especially as folks get ready to use pools, boats and go to the beach.”
More than 500 locations in over 20 countries and 40 states are expected to host swim lessons on Friday. On the local level, Brigis said Huntington YMCA expects more than 30 kids and their families to join the free event.
“If a child participates in formal swimming and water safety we can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent,” she said, adding that drowning is the second leading cause of unintended injury related death for children ages 5-14.
From 10 a.m.-12 p.m., aquatics instructors will be prepare children by teaching water safety skills, including paddling and back floats.
Brigis said Long Island is especially vulnerable to drowning accidents since it is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Long Island Sound and is home to a “plethora of neighborhood backyard pools.”
“I’m passionate about trying to make sure we do everything possible to keep kids safe,” she added.
Suffolk legislators have also been promoting the importance of safe swimming.
Legislator Lou D’Amaro (D-Huntington Station) said, “I cannot understate the importance of kids knowing pool safety rules.
D’Amaro, who recently spoke with students at John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park about the topic, added, “It’s always a team effort in trying to educate our kids in pool safety and learning to swim is certainly a big part of that.”
Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) added that the best step to avoid drowning accidents and other injuries is to take swimming lessons and to learn CPR.
“By taking lessons, adults and children are not only protecting themselves, but they will be prepared to help if an emergency situation arises,” he said. “Accidents can happen in just a matter of seconds. We must all vigilantly take precautions when around water sources and teach our children to do the same.”
For more information on the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, visit Ymcali.org or call 855-296-2254.