Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Starts with Swim Lessons

Posted: Jun. 07, 2021 Swim Lessons

The South Shore YMCA is on a mission to become a Drowning Prevention Community

Drowning is Preventable

We’ve all seen the movies and television shows that feature a scene with drowning—there is typically a lot of yelling, lots of splashing over a long period of time while onlookers attempt to understand what is happening and then perform a rescue.

Unfortunately, Hollywood has taught us to look for the wrong things when it comes to water safety. Drowning is by and large silent—a person struggling for air cannot scream, and more likely you’ll see a person bobbing slightly up and down in the water with little to no splashing.

“We know that 88 percent of drownings happen under adult supervision. At first glance, parents and caregivers may think a child is playing, but instead, that child is struggling,” said Trevor Williams, Chief Operating Officer for the South Shore YMCA. The fact that drowning is silent makes it all the more important to watch children closely when water is around—whether that’s a swimming pool, lake, ocean, or even bathtub.

Drowning is Preventable YMCA

According to the World Health Organization every hour, every day, more than 40 people lose their lives to drowning; 372,000 people drown each year, with those under 5 years old at greatest risk; Globally, over half of all drowning deaths are under 25 years old. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.

With nine drownings in Massachusetts already this season, the South Shore YMCA is on a mission to make our community a Drowning Prevention Community. Learning life-saving water safety skills through lessons and instruction is the number one way to prevent drownings from happening, and keep yourself and your family safe.

At the Y, nobody is turned away from life-saving swim lessons and water safety instruction. We offer group and private lessons for any age, from infant to adult. It is never too early or too late to learn to be safe around water.

To learn more about the Y’s swimming lessons and Safety Around Water program visit

Swim Lessons

Always Swim with an Adult SSYMCA

The Number One Water Safety Rule

Any time children are going to be near water, there are rules involved—wear sunscreen, walk/don’t run, no pushing, etc. But here at the Y, there’s one rule that outweighs all the others: Never get in the water without an adult’s permission.

Teaching children this rule from a young age helps keep them safe by always alerting you when they intend to wade, swim or even take a bath! We know children can be impulsive so this is a rule that needs to be repeated time and time again. Just as you might repeat to a child every time they’re about to cross the street, “Look both ways,” you can also repeat this water safety rule each time you’re getting into the water together: “Ask permission before you get in the water!” If you make this part of the process of swimming, it is more likely to become a habit for children.

“Children—especially young children—move so quickly, sometimes they can see a body of water, jump in and be in trouble before their caregiver even realizes the child is no longer by their side,” says Kristen Seaton, Director of Powers Aquatics parent-chid swim lesson programming at South Shore YMCA Swim Academy. “You want your child to ask for permission to go in the water with the same routine and muscle memory that you buckle your seatbelt with.”

To learn more about the Y’s swimming lessons and Safety Around Water program visit

Swim Lessons

Swimming is a skill not a privelege SSYMCA

Swimming is an Essential Skill, Not a Privilege

Here at the Y, we believe that every person deserves access to water safety instruction, no matter their age or their circumstances. Each year we provide Safety Around Water programs in partnership with local elementary schools and swim lesson scholarships to ensure that all families have the skills they need to keep them safe, opening up a world of possibilities for all.

There are three categories of Y Swim Lessons:

  • Parent/Child: South Shore Swim Academy’s Powers Aquatics program is a powerfully effective, learn-to-swim parent/child swim program that specializes in teaching babies (2 months old – 36 months old) how to swim, how to be safe in the water, and transitions into learning the 4 competitive swim strokes before a child turns 3 years old.
  • Swim Basics develops personal water safety and basic swimming skills in students of all ages. Swimmers develop a high level of comfort in the water by practicing safe water habits, engaging in underwater exploration, and learning how to swim to safety and exit if they fall into a body of water.
  • Swim Strokes introduces and refines stroke technique in older students (school age, teens and adults). Having mastered the fundamentals, students learn additional water safety skills and build stroke technique, developing skills that prevent chronic disease, increase social-emotional and cognitive well-being and foster a lifetime of physical activity.

Financial Assistance/Scholarship forms can be picked up at the front desk of the Quincy YMCA or Emilson YMCA in Hanover.

If you would like to help provide families access to water safety,
please visit to make a donation.


How to Help Someone Struggling in Water

Becoming water safe personally and providing water safety instruction and lessons for your family can help add layers of protection to help keep you and your family safe around water. One more layer is ensuring that you know what to do in a water emergency.

No matter the situation, the Y wants you to remember four simple phrases:

  1. Call
  2. Reach
  3. Throw
  4. Don’t Go

Call—The first thing you need to do when you see someone struggling in the water is to call for help. If there is another adult, or an older child/teenager have them call 911 while you work to help the person in the water.

Reach—Lay on your stomach and attempt to reach the person in the water using something such as an oar, long branch, pool noodle or something similar. See if the person has the strength to grab on to the item and use it to help pull them to safety.

Throw—If the person cannot grab ahold of the item or if there is nothing long enough, attempt to throw them something that floats in the water. They can then use this to keep them afloat until further help arrives. Objects that float can be a, ball, ring buoy, an empty picnic cooler, or a closed, empty water jug.

Don’t Go—In open water or a pool, it’s very important not to follow the person into the water as a struggling person may accidentally drag another person into the water or dangerous waters may make it unsafe for you to assist. Continue working to bring the person to safety from the shore or from the edge of a pool until professional help arrives.

Swim Lessons: Become Water Safe at Any Age

With private or group lessons for any age, from infant to adult, it is never too early or too late to become water safe to protect you and your family around water. The Y is America's Swim Instructor, and our financial assistance program ensures nobody is turned away so that lessons are accessible for everyone. Swim Lessons