Each year, the Y teaches more than a million children how to swim

In 2017, 114 people drowned in Indiana. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S. and second leading cause for children ages 5 to 14.

Getting his feet wet

Davis began swimming lessons at the Hendricks Regional Health YMCA in 2017. Before that, he was a stair hugger. He would load up all of his toys, slather on his sunscreen, and find the best spot on the pool steps, in the shallow end right where everyone needs to get by. He planted himself and played for hours. Getting his feet wet, and even up to his tummy was okay, but the idea of being submerged in the water was absolutely terrifying to him.

The Garrett family loves to spend time in the water. Summers at lakes and beaches are a must, and his parents knew Davis needed to learn water safety skills at a young age. When Davis started lessons at the YMCA, he was in a small group with several other children and two instructors. He did okay in his first lesson, until he heard he had to go back, and then the tears flowed. Each lesson was a battle when it was time to leave the house. He would cry. Sometimes his mom would cry. But giving up was not an option so they reached out to the aquatics director, Andrea Ziegler, to explore options.

Andrea recommended that Davis try a private swim lesson where he can get one-on-one attention. The first day, there were tears again. When Davis climbed into the pool, he clung to Ms. Andrea like he was never letting go. The lessons that followed were not easy, and for weeks the tears continued. Davis would say he he didn’t feel good or was too tired. 

Building confidence in the water

davis learns to swim
Davis swimming at his neighborhood pool

And then, as quickly as it started, the tears began to fade. Each lesson was ending with a new accomplishment, and Davis was learning to love the water. On trips to the Y for other activities, he always had to say hi to “our favorite Ms. Andrea.” The first summer after lessons were spent all over the pool. Davis was still using water wings, but he finally felt safe moving throughout the entire pool area. He could float on his back independently and had a much better sense of water safety.

When pool season ended Davis went back to lessons to build on his skills. He still had some hesitation around the water because as he says, “swim lessons are not the same as swim fun.” This season was spent learning how to hold his breath and be confident going underwater. By the end of lessons he was swimming from one end of the pool to the other on his own.

Swim lessons are swim fun

Fast forward to today, and Davis confidently spends weekends at the lake, his cousins new pool and the beach. His parents are at ease knowing he feels confident and safe around water. And by the way, if you ask Davis what he thinks about swim lessons he’ll tell you, “Swim lessons are swim fun!”

“The most important thing I have learned in swimming lessons is the safety jump and safety swim. I think other kids should take swim lessons at the YMCA with Ms. Andrea because she is the best teacher.”

We are dedicated to water safety at the YMCA. With year-round swim lessons and Safety Around the Water programs and constantly hiring lifeguards, there are many opportunities for you and your family to stay safe around the water and learn essential water safety skills.