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SAFETY AROUND WATER – Second Grade Learn to Swim


Because one minute is all it takes for a child to drown

Here in Virginia, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among children so the YMCA of the Virginia Peninsulas is taking a stand to stop drowning. We offer all second graders the opportunity to become water-safe, free of charge.

Our service area consists of 989 square miles of water. This does not take into account the number of pools our children have access to.

  • Three kids die every day from drowning
  • Drowning is the second leading cause of death for kids ages 5-14
  • Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among children in the state of Virginia
  • For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries
  • Children ages 5-14 most often drown in swimming pools and open water
  • 58% of parents do not consider drowning a threat to their children
  • 88% of kids who drown do so under parent supervision
  • 60% of kids who drown do so within 10 feet of safety

To help reduce these dreadful statistics YMCA Endowment Fund has pledged to offer free swimming lessons for all second graders in our service area. There are over 7,000 second graders that live within our service area.

In Safety Around Water, children learn what to do if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly.

  1. They learn fundamental water safety skills that include the concepts of reach, throw, don’t go; CPR, and what to look for in a safe place to swim.
  2. Jump/Push/Turn/Grab teaches a child to push off the bottom of the pool as they are submerging to get back up to the surface while turning to grab the side of the pool.
  3. Swim/Float/Swim teaches children to swim a short distance on their front, roll over onto their back to rest, and then roll on their front to continue swimming to safety.

All Peninsula YMCAs, even those without pools, offer the Safety Around Water – Second Grade Learn to Swim program. We work together with schools and school systems to ensure all second graders have the opportunity to learn to swim. Contact your local Y to learn how to get your school involved.

Teaching children to be safe around water is just as important as teaching them to how to properly cross the street. As an organization dedicated to creating safe spaces for all, the Y has committed to teaching free water safety classes for every second grader every year. This is a Mission Program funded through the YMCA Endowment Fund. To learn more please contact, Adam Klutts, CEO, 757-223-7925 x203.


  1. Test and Teach – Have your child’s swimming skills tested at your local Y; it’s absolutely free. If your child is not a strong swimmer, enroll them in swim classes. The Y offers swimming instruction for children of all ages (6 months old and up).
  2. Watch and Guard – Never leave a child unattended around water. Appoint at least one adult “water watcher” to supervise all water and pool activities. Also, make sure there are non-climbable fences, locks, covers, and alarms to secure the pool when it is not in use.
  3. Throw, don’t go – Too often, drownings are multiplied because somebody tries to be a hero. If you see someone struggling in the water at a pool or lake, don’t jump in to try to perform the rescue. Instead, throw out a Coast Guard-approved flotation device or use a pole to reach the drowning victim.


The Y is a great resource for communities that are surrounded by water because they are “America’s Swim Instructor.” The first indoor filtered pool was designed and built at a YMCA in 1909 and we’ve been teaching kids to swim even before then. Literally millions of kids and adults have learned to swim at a YMCA.

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Our mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.