mom and kids at the pool on bench and pool gate behind them

Bennett, 6, and Owen, 3, finish their swim lessons at the Campo Family YMCA in Valrico.

Pools, lakes, and beach are great places to beat the summer heat but they can also be deadly if you’re not water smart. Drowning can happen nearly anywhere with standing water. According to Nemours Children’s Health, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in children, especially those younger than 4 and teens. 

“It’s really important that we teach kids safety skills in the water so they can save themselves if they were to fall into a body of water,” says Lauren Brun, Tampa Y Senior Aquatics Director. 

The YMCA offers swim lessons year-round starting at 6-months-old. A parent joins their child in the pool to get the baby acclimated to the water. Parents learn water safety skills to keep the child safe in and around water. The Y follows a progressive swim lesson program, with each stage gradually becoming more challenging in skills and endurance.

There are three general categories of Y Swim Lessons:

  • Swim Starters develops water enrichment and aquatic readiness in children ages six months to three years. This category focuses on developing swim readiness skills through fun and confidence-building experiences. Parents also learn how to supervise children in the water, how to prevent accidents and how to plan for emergencies.
  • Swim Basics develops personal water safety and basic swimming skills in students of all ages. Swimmers develop a high level of comfort in the water by practicing safe water habits, engaging in underwater exploration, and learning how to swim to safety and exit if they fall into a body of water.
  • Swim Strokes introduces and refines stroke technique in older students (school age, teens and adults). Having mastered the fundamentals, students learn additional water safety skills and build stroke technique, developing skills that prevent chronic disease, increase social-emotional and cognitive well-being and foster a lifetime of physical activity.

Nichole Koop moved to Florida from Las Vegas nearly two years and just enrolled her sons Owen, 3, and Bennet, 6, in lessons at the Campo Family YMCA in Valrico.

“This was their first session. They’re both very comfortable with the water but they needed a little bit more coaching. It’s been good for my youngest learning how to acclimate to the water more safety instead of just getting to the side and keeping himself above water,” she says. 

Nichole says she feels more confident taking them to the pools where they can swim together and she can be more of a water watcher.

“They’re learning things that are going to keep them safe and especially bringing them back here to an area that they’re comfortable with and that they know the lay of the land and the rules. Most importantly they’re learning safety skills,” Nichole says. 

The YMCA has water safety swim tests that once passed, children can access the water slides in the family pools. 

“My six-year-old is looking forward to that,” Nicole laughs. “It’s a good goal for them to achieve.”

Enroll in a swim program Today! Swim lessons are available at 10 Tampa YMCA locations in Hillsborough and East Pasco counties.