YMCA offers free swimming lessons to students in Chippewa Falls

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW) — According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the third leading cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 360,000 drowning deaths in 2015. So, some area second graders have been making a splash all while learning an important safety lesson.

Students from Hillcrest Elementary in Chippewa Falls have been getting their feet wet in the basics of swimming for a week now, learning everything from how to back-float to basic butterfly kicks.

What sparked these lessons was a recognized need after students would come at the end of the year for a fun swim, but YMCA staff would spend more time jumping in and helping than they would seeing kids have fun.

“I would say the most important thing they get out of this is safety,” said the YMCA’s Aquatic Director, Cathy Krula. “We’re not looking to come out with Olympic swimmers, and sometimes the most important thing they learn is what they can’t do in the water, that they really are not good swimmers and can’t swim in deep water. So, if they learn that from this it’s a success.”

The importance of knowing how to swim was echoed by Hillcrest physical education teacher, Kip Knez, who told News 18 having qualified instructors has helped greatly.

“Just in the week’s time they’ve been here, we’ve noticed that they’ve improved and become more comfortable,” Knez said. At the beginning of the week there were several boys and girls that didn’t even want to go into the water, and after just a short weeks time, they’re going end-to-end in the pool because of the instruction they’ve received.”

Thursday was the last day for Hillcrest Elementary Students. Parkview Elementary will begin lessons in the spring. The partnership between the YMCA and the two elementary schools allows these lessons to be offered at no cost to the students nor the schools.

Samantha Wensel

Samantha Wensel

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