A YMCA of Broome County mom sat on the bleachers by the shallow end of the West Family Y pool watching her nearly-5-year-old daughter during swim lessons. She offered smiles and encouragement to her youngest, as she left the wall and swam to her instructor. The mom, a seasoned pro of the program, said they started their oldest in infant classes more than 10 years ago. Then she pointed to the deep end as she shared the swim successes of her older children, ages 10 ½ and 8 ½. They progressed from fearing the water to floating and enjoying the water. Over time, they gained the confidence they needed to master swim strokes and diving.
According to the ymca.net History post for 1900-1950’s the YMCA set a goal “to teach every man and boy in North America how to swim.” In 1909, George Corsan introduced a radical new method of instruction that included group lessons and new swim techniques to build confidence. The program proved so successful in Newark, N.J. alone, 800 boys learned to swim in just 4 weeks.
The site also mentioned, “Swim classes expanded throughout the century to include families and people with disabilities. In addition to helping youth feel safe around water, swim activities develop kids’ problem-solving abilities and bolster their self-esteem.”
The YMCA of Broome has embraced the YMCA swim campaign for decades. Countless adults, infants, preschoolers and children have learned to swim at the Binghamton and West Family Y, sometimes as many as 3, 4 or even 5 generations of the same family. Last year the YMCA of Broome County provided 164 participants who could not otherwise afford lessons, over $2,400 in financial aid to learn to swim.
Parents and grandparents offered these comments about YMCA swim lessons during a busy Thursday evening and Saturday morning session:
Mom of 9-year-old Sierra, who is enrolled in Intro to Competitive Swim, says: “She is acclimated to the pool and learning every stroke she needs to know. She is preparing to swim for her school.”
Several mentioned they enrolled children to learn water safety and possibly save their lives. Some families were planning vacations around water during Spring Break or in the summer. Others owned pools or ponds or visit friends with pools. They wanted their children safe and comfortable around water. Some wanted their children to learn to swim because of their own fear of the water and/or they had never learned to swim.
One 4-year-old is “super-excited” after a second lesson.
“Learning to be fish”
“Getting more confidant!” “Took floaty off today for first time in 3 years!” “Loves it!”
One family with boys 7 and 9 years old experienced “major accomplishments in 5 years of lessons.” Dad appreciates how the lesson times fit any schedule. He said most of their lessons had been at Binghamton but they switched to West Family to accommodate the rest of their activities.
Comments about the Instructors and Aquatics Director:
“Great instructors. Caring for younger children and able to challenge older kids!”
“Do a good job!