Swimming Lessons Make A Comeback

Recreational swimming is one of the leading forms of recreation enjoyed by Americans. However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Drowning is a leading cause of death for children.”  The CDC also reports that “more children ages 1-4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects. In addition, for children ages 1-14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes.”

I took my first swimming lesson at age four at the YWCA in York, PA. I still remember my parents asking me if I wanted to learn to swim as I sat on our kitchen floor with my feet resting on the leg of the table. I thought it sounded like a great idea! Fast forward to our first trip to the pool. Things got scary fast! I proceeded to sit poolside and cry for several weeks, but the instructors encouraged my Mom to keep bringing me. I am so thankful she did! Those lessons lead me to where I am today.

Group swimming lessons were reintroduced to the YWCA’s aquatic program this summer, and we plan to make them a common topic of conversation in Gettysburg. Twenty-nine children between the ages of three and fourteen learned basic swimming skills in our pool.

Our youth swimming lesson curriculum is designed for children between six months and 14 years. Students are divided into groups by age and ability focusing on success for everyone.

Our youngest students participate in the Aqua Babies and Aqua Tots classes. In these classes, children are accompanied by a responsible adult and led by an instructor.   Adults learn how to hold their children in the water and teach them basic skills. Songs and activities that make these classes fun. This is the beginning for many children and helps prepare them for the following levels, where they swim with an instructor while Mom and Dad watch from afar.

Next is the program for children between the ages of 3 and 6. The TOPSS program comprises six levels, Tadpole One and Two, Otter, Porpoise, Seal, and Shark. Progression through these levels takes the students from being non-swimmers to swimming lengths of the pool and often on to the Sharks Swim Team.

Once children have completed first grade, it is on to Swim School. Swim School is composed of seven levels, Beginner One and Two, Intermediate One, Two, and Three, and Advanced One and Two. Swim School teaches the four competitive strokes, freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly, as well as elementary backstroke. Students who complete this program may move on to become competitive swimmers, lifeguards, or just people who enjoy swimming.

All of our lessons include lessons on safety skills, and each child receives a written progress report at the end of every session that indicates the skills they have mastered, the ones they still need to work on, and which group they should enroll in the next session.

You can check out our lessons and register your children for the next session by going to our website, www.ywcagettysburg.org, and clicking on the “Aquatics” tab.

Drowning statistics came from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/drowning/facts/index.html.


Beth Raub is Aquatics Director at YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County

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