Learning to swim changes lives

Alexandra Gomez didn’t know how to swim as a young girl growing up in South Central Los Angeles. Lessons were expensive, and not many kids in her low-income neighborhood swam or had access to pools. Yet, Alexandra enjoyed being around water. So when she heard about no-cost Learn to Swim classes offered through the Operation Splash program at the nearby Expo Center when she was 10 years old, she welcomed the opportunity.

“I was nervous, but I learned the basics first, and gradually got better,” said Alexandra, now 17. “I loved it!”

The Operation Splash program aims to improve health by increasing opportunities for safe physical activity and decreasing drownings. Kaiser Permanente partners with Los Angeles and other Southern California cities to provide no-charge swim lessons for low-income youth and adults, and scholarships for junior lifeguard training. The popular program has served more than 143,000 children and adults in the city of Los Angeles since launching in 2006.

Learning to swim can lead to other opportunities for youth, such as participating in competitive water sports, pursuing a career in aquatics, or even competing in the Olympics.

After finishing the Learn to Swim program, Alexandra’s growing confidence in her swimming abilities led her to join a swim team, play high school water polo, and become a junior lifeguard. In fact, the recent Venice High School graduate also completed the 2019 Lifeguard Academy. This summer she’s a lifeguard at the city’s Jackie Tatum/Harvard Pool in South Los Angeles, a role she takes seriously. 

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Dive Into Free Swim Lessons at the YMCA

Summer and swim lessons: They go hand-in-hand.

As soon as school is out, kids are clamoring to get in the water for fun, exercise and a break from the heat.

But learning to swim is also a valuable life skill.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, an average of 10 people die from drowning every day, two of them being children under age 15. The National Safety Council reports drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children.

Despite the stats, not all parents can afford to pay $ 40 a lesson (give or take) for their child to learn to swim.

“Seventy-nine percent of children in families with household incomes less than $ 50,000 have little to no swim ability,” said Lindsay Mondick, senior manager of aquatics at YMCA of the USA.

Since it typically takes several lessons for a kid to truly master the skill, swim lessons could end up costing parents several hundred dollars per child.

“As a penny-pinching mom myself, I know swimming lessons are sometimes one of those things that gets left off the list,” Mondick said. “But in my opinion, it’s the only recreational program that also has the ability to be a life-saving program.”

To help make swimming and water safety lessons more accessible, the national YMCA is providing funding for 33,000 children to participate in Safety Around Water programs this year at no cost.

Safety Around Water is a YMCA program that teaches children important water safety skills and basic swimming instruction. Approximately 1,200 YMCA branches across the nation are offering the program, Mondick said.

Throughout a series of sessions (typically eight 40-minute lessons), instructors teach children how to feel confident in the water and maneuvers they can use if they unexpectedly find themselves submerged, like treading water, turning to float on their backs and propelling themselves from the bottom of a pool to the surface.

Kids will also learn basic swimming skills and important safety information, like what to do if they see someone in the water who needs help. The classes are appropriate for beginning swimmers generally ages 3 through 12.

In addition to the money from the national YMCA, Mondick said many local branches do their own fundraising and partner with community supporters to run the program at free or reduced costs.

Some locations only offer the free lessons to children living under a certain income level or from a certain zip code or school district. Registration might be capped, and dates for lessons vary.

Check your local YMCA branch to find out if it offers this program for free in your area and for further details.

The YMCA also offers paid swimming instruction for children that goes beyond basic survival skills. Costs vary by location, but you may find the YMCA’s prices are lower than enrolling in a for-profit swim school or hiring a private instructor.

Mondick said the YMCA provides swimming lessons to an average of 1 million kids each year. She said many local branches offer scholarships or financial assistance to make its programs affordable for low-income families.

For other options for kids’ swim lessons at affordable rates, check your city- or county-owned pools.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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‘Three Busy Debras’ Ordered to Series at Adult Swim

Adult Swim is diving into absurdist suburbia with a new comedy series titled “Three Busy Debras.” The cable channel has issued a series order for the quarter-hour live-action comedy which follows the surreal day-to-day lives of three deranged housewives, all named Debra, in their affluent suburban town of Lemoncurd, Connecticut. The show, whose pilot was […]

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House of Harlow 1960 x Revolve Looks to Swim for Expansion

DEEPER WATERS: Nicole Richie’s House of Harlow label continues to broaden its assortment, now looking to swim for its next move.
The business, in conjunction with retailer Revolve, has launched a collection of swimwear and ready-to-wear under the House of Harlow 1960 x Revolve label. It’s the first drop, totaling some 16 pieces, of several planned for rollout across January, February, April and May.
“Swim is a strong category for Revolve definitely with the top three peak months, so it just made sense for the progression of the brand,” Richie said. “We, last resort, came out with great footwear styles so this is more about completing that story.”
The range is priced from $ 68 to $ 198 and is being sold exclusively through Revolve.
The assortment is in keeping with the design aesthetic Richie’s built House of Harlow on, with neutral colors in addition to knot detailing, stripes and crochet.
“It’s still very House of Harlow, really beautiful cover-ups to go with the swimwear so that it can transition into ready-to-wear,” Richie said.
Teaming with Revolve has helped on the back end in terms of designing House of Harlow for the market, Richie said. She cited the multibrand e-commerce company’s access to consumer data as an example

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Johnny Was Continues Growth Push With Swim

Johnny Was has launched into swim in a move outlined a little over a year ago by its chief executive officer, who is looking to grow the business through new categories and store expansion.
Private equity firm Endeavour Capital a little more than three years ago invested in the business, which was founded in 1987, with the new capital fueling this latest growth strategy.
The latest example of this is Friday’s launch of swimwear for resort 2019. The offering will be rolled out to some 150 specialty stores in addition to Neiman Marcus, which is serving as the exclusive luxury major partner for the launch.
The 25-piece collection, which is being produced in-house rather than through a licensing firm, offers sizes up to 3X. That’s the same ceiling as the ready-to-wear line. Retail pricing ranges from $ 88 to $ 298.
The extension into swim was an obvious one for the brand, which has built a business around color, print and embroidery, said vice president of wholesale sales and merchandising Meg Doepke.
“Our customers have been asking us to do that for years and we did see a void in the market for colorful, flattering swimwear that fits real women, but doesn’t look too matronly,” Doepke went

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