Safety Over Strokes at the YMCA

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This year, the YMCA of Metro Chicago updated their swim program, valuing safety over strokes.

“We looked at the research behind drowning and we know that 88 percent of drowning happens under adult supervision, and 60 percent of drowning happens within ten feet of safety,” said Senior Director of Program Strategy and Implementation with the YMCA of Metro Chicago, Kyle Kamman.

These startling statistics led the Y of Metro Chicago to implement several new techniques in all of their swim levels and at all of their 15 aquatic centers across Chicagoland, including the Fry and Kroehler YMCAs here in Naperville.

“We’re teaching ‘jump-push-turn-grab,’ which would mimic that a child would fall in the water that they’re able to push up off the water, and they’re able to come up, surface, look around for safety, turn to safety, and get back to the wall,” said Kamman.

And to help kids better conserve energy so they can make it to safety, there’s the ‘swim-float-swim’ technique.

Kamman explains, “If a child needs to get to safety, they can swim on their front, roll onto their back, which is going to help them rest, get their breath composure, then they’re able to roll back over and swim to safety.”

But the changes aren’t just taking place in the pool.

“We’re also putting a large focus on making sure kids ask for permission before they go into the water,” said Kamman, “so before the start of every lesson the children should be asking ‘is it safe for me to enter the water?’ and again that’s alerting the caregiver that they’re about to enter that environment.”

An increased focus on safety that parents are taking note of.

“They started to focus on trying to get them to float and do some safety basics. I think that’s good, they have to be able to be safe in the water, especially this young,” said Jennifer Haglund, a parent of a five-year-old swim student.

Helping kids dive in, and get swimming.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.