Waterproofing Kids May Be Impossible, but our Local YMCA Can Help Make Them Safer Around Water

As the season turns from spring to summer, the Wardle Family YMCA (1801 Richmond Ave., Port Royal) encourages children and parents in the Lowcountry to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind.

In Y swim programs, participants can enjoy water sports, enhance or learn new techniques, meet new friends and develop confidence, while also learning safety skills that can save lives.

Photo courtesy of Beaufort-Jasper YMCA of the Lowcountry

“It’s never too early to get children involved in swimming—it’s important for safety reasons, but also a great way to keep active and healthy,” said Lou Bergen, Aquatics Director, Wardle Family YMCA. “In fact, newer studies show that children as young as 1-year-old can benefit from formal swim lessons. There are so many options for parents, but the best place to start is by learning basic water safety skills that helps get kids familiar with the water that often continues with swim lessons and competitive swim programs and can even lead to a career.”

As part of National Water Safety Month in May, the Beaufort-Jasper YMCA of the Lowcountry encourages parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming—beginning with water safety. The following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:

  • Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone
  • Adults should constantly and actively watch their children
  • Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket
  • Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach
  • Children and adults should not engage in breath holding activities

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, swimming is a great way to increase physical activity. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem.

Kids are not the only age-group that should learn to swim. The Lowcountry is 51% marsh, river, and ocean – the ‘land’ is quite literally surrounded by water – so it is obvious that learning how to swim well is a necessity for adults as well as kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of adults in the United States can’t swim the length of a pool, which puts them at risk of being 1 of the 10 people who drown every day in the U.S.

In 2018 the Wardle Family Y taught over 7,000 swim sessions to local kids and adults, over half for free or at a reduced cost. This is made possible through donations to the YMCA Annual Scholarship campaign, the Y Learn to Swim program, grants and funds raised at the Beaufort River Swim, This 3.2–mile competitive water swim and 1-mile fun swim is now in its 13th year and is the only open water swim in Beaufort County.

As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, the Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety locally for more than 23 years. The Wardle Family YMCA continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose, including:

  • Age group lessons including parent/child and private swim lessons
  • Lap swimming
  • (BYAC) Tiger Sharks Swim Team with 3 levels of teams members (Shark Pups, TigerSharks Level 1, & TigerSharks Level 2)
  • Water aerobics group exercises classes
  • Fluid Fitness (work out ON the water!)
  • Aqua Camp (specialty summer camp)
  • Lifeguard Training
  • Masters Swim
  • 100-Mile Swim Club
  • Scuba

To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, financial assistance is available. To learn more about Wardle Family YMCA  swim programs, please contact Lou Bergen at 843-522-9622 ext. 236(l.bergen@wardlefamilyymca.org) To learn more about the Beaufort River Swim, contact Denice Fanning, event director: 843-522-9622 ext. 223 (d.fanning@wardlefamilymca.org)

Article & photos by Wardle Family YMCA