Parents may notice that the YMCA of the U.S.A. — which has taught generations of children to swim at facilities nationwide — has updated its swim program methodology this fall for the first time in more than 20 years, moving away from a heavy reliance on flotation devices and focusing on self-rescue skills and improved swim techniques.
Parents will see a change in the terminology as swimmers graduate from basic to more advanced. Instead of the levels named for fish such as Guppy and Polliwog, the new program will include Swim Starters, Swim Basics and Swim Strokes.
“It was really time for an update,” says Tracie Busch, aquatics director at the Patchogue Family YMCA/Brookhaven Roe Y Center. “The YMCA of the U.S.A. did a lot of research into what participants wanted out of the program. It really brings in that preventative aspect. One of the first things we do in lessons is they have to ask permission to go in the water.”
Swim Starters (Stages A and B) introduce infants and toddlers, ages 6 months to 3 years, to the water environment and is a parent/child program. It focuses on developing readiness skills through confidence-building experiences. Parents also learn how to supervise children in the water, prevent accidents and plan for emergencies.
Swim Basics (Stages 1-3) develop personal water safety and basic swimming skills in students of all ages. Instruction includes engaging in underwater experiences, mastering the fundamentals of swimming, and understanding how to get out of a body of water if they fall in.
Swim Strokes (Stages 4-6) refine stroke technique in school-aged children, teens and adults.
Once swimmers have completed those three stages, they can move onto Pathways, which are specialized tracks emphasizing competition, leadership and recreation.
The nonprofit YMCA has Long Island facilities in East Hampton, Glen Cove, Bay Shore, Holtsville, Huntington and Patchogue. To learn more about the new swim lesson programs, visit ymcali.org