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Family Y Swim Programs Offer Mix of Fun, Physical Activity and Safety

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A young swimmer has fun taking the plunge at the Y's Splash! Week learn-to-swim program.

A young swimmer has fun taking the plunge at the Y’s Splash! Week learn-to-swim program.

As swim season approaches, the Westport Weston Family Y encourages local children and parents to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind. In the Y’s 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.

“Swimming is a fun and enjoyable activity for children and adults alike, and it’s an easy way to stay physically active and improve strength, flexibility and stamina,” said Nicole Turechek, Aquatics Director. “The Family Y is committed to providing as many opportunities as possible for everyone to swim and learn water safety practices – a vital life skill in a community like ours, blessed with so many beaches, inland streams and lakes and backyard pools.”

“We’re also fortunate to have the support of community partners like the Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities, which sponsors Splash! Week, our newest learn-to-swim program,” Turechek adds. “With their help, we were able to offer children daily half-hour lessons during the April School Vacation at a cost of only $20 for the entire week.” (See below for a  photo gallery of fun images from Splash! Week.)

Stewie the Duck, the Leonard Charities’ ever-popular mascot, will be back at the Y during the Y’s Hafaday Summer Swim Lesson Program. Now in its 36th season, Hafaday provides children ages 4 to 8 weekly sessions throughout the summer. Held from 8:45 am to 12:30 pm each day, Hafaday has both a lesson and free swim, with arts & crafts, music and gym time rounding out each morning of fun. Enrollment is under way at www.westporty.org; parents are encouraged to sign up their children soon, as most sessions fill to capacity.

Registration for the Y’s Summer Session begins Monday, May 6, with new classes starting on June 24. There are a variety of programs to choose, including parent-child swim classes, pre-school and youth swim lessons, as well as semi- and private swim lessons, at any age, with or without a parent.

Kim and Stew Leonard read from their Stewie the Duck book, a kids' favorite.

Kim and Stew Leonard read from their Stewie the Duck book, a kids’ favorite.

The Family Y also offers a wide range of Aqua Fitness classes, from Ruth Sherman’s treasured Senior Aqua Fitness classes in the warm-water Brophy Pool to Patty Kondub’s energetic sessions in the Stauffer Shallows. Those looking for even more of a challenge can try our Deep Water Workouts, held Friday evenings from 6:30-7:30 pm.

May is National Water Safety Month, an opportune time for the Family Y to recommend that all adults and children in their care practice the following safety tips 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, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Only 19 percent of U.S. children get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, according to the latest findings of the YMCA’s Family Health Snapshot – a survey that gauges children’s activity levels during the school year

Swimming motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation, and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing.

A young Water Rat at the annual Blue-Red meet this winter, a fun event featuring kids and parents.

A young Water Rat at the annual Blue-Red meet this winter, a fun event featuring kids and parents.

The Family Y is also home to the Water Rat Swim Team, a nationally competitive group of 200-plus young swimmers, as well as the Y Masters, an equally accomplished team of adult swimmers who participate in organized workouts throughout the week and compete in national meets.

There is a place for everyone at the Y – anyone at any skill level can take swimming lessons. It is never too late to learn how to swim and to enjoy the water. The Y offers two levels of adult instructional swim classes, for beginners and intermediate swimmers, and private lessons.

As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for more than 120 years. Since its founding in 1923, our local Y has taught more than 33,000 local children how to swim! And to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in our Y’s swim programs, financial assistance is available to those in need to help cover the costs.

To learn more about the Westport Weston Family Y’s swim programs, please contact Nicole Turechek at 203-226-8981, ext. 128, or nturechek@westporty.org.

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