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Tampa Bay YMCAs offer free swim lessons for kids over spring break

The lessons could potentially save lives.

TAMPA, Fla. — Whether we're talking about pools, lakes, the bay, or the gulf, there are plenty of ways to make a splash in the Tampa Bay area. 

That makes it easier for kids to find themselves cooling off in the water during a hot day, but it can be dangerous if they don't know how to swim.

That's why nearly a dozen Tampa Bay area YMCA's are offering free water safety lessons during the week of spring break for Pinellas and Hillsborough County Schools.     

These water safety lessons are geared to kids 3-12 who are beginners or nonswimmers.  They will focus on two big skills:

  1. Jump, push, turn, grab. Amanda Walker with the Aquatics Director for Tampa YMCA says this helps teach kids what to do if they accidentally fall into the water. She says it reached them to surface, collect their breath and turn and be able to look for the nearest exit out of the body of water.
  2. Swim, float, swim. She says this teaches them how to roll from their belly to their back in order to rest. It helps them get their faces out of the water, wait for help and depending on their skill level, also teaching them to roll back to their belly to continue forward progress to an exit out of a body of water if they can.

The instructors will also be following safety guidelines keeping the classes small with the kids spaced out appropriately. 

"Instructors will be in face shields so there is a layer of protection between them and the kiddos," Walker said. 

The YMCA also stresses adding layers of protection like pool fences, alarms on doors and life jackets.

But, most of all, it's important to make sure a responsible adult has eyes on kids at all times when they are around water. If you want your child to take part in the water safety lessons, it's free and you don't have to be a member, but space is limited so you need to sign up in advance.

There are 11 Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA's offering the program and 5 YMCA of the Suncoast locations. At the Tampa Y, you can sign up online, in person or by phone. At the Suncoast Y, you will need to sign up in person or by phone. 

There are several other area YMCAs also offering this program. Check with your local to see if they are participating and get your child signed up. 

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