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Oklahoma City YMCA program helps 1,300-plus second-graders learn to swim

The YMCA offered free instruction to nearly 1,300 students during the past school year in the Oklahoma City metro area in an effort to curb the drowning rate.
BY DENA DRABEK Published: May 26, 2012

Hundreds of kids across the Oklahoma City metro area know how to swim and will be safer around the water this summer, thanks to the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.

Nearly 1,300 students were taken to metro-area Ys throughout the school year for “Everybody in the Pool,” which provides basic swim instruction to second-graders at no cost.

“The Y is committed to providing as many opportunities as possible for everyone to learn basic swimming lessons and water safety practices,” said Terri Johnson, director of training and aquatics.

The YMCA started the program in 2000 to help reduce the disparity among those who learn to swim and those who do not. Research shows drowning rates are higher among minorities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says factors such as access to pools and a combination of social and cultural issues contribute to higher drowning rates among minorities and low-income children.

The second-grade classes attend four sessions in water safety and basic stroke instruction.

The YMCA offers a variety of programs where swimmers can have fun while developing confidence, engaging in physical activity and learning safety skills.

To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, financial assistance is available.

Dena Drabek is director of communications for the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.