Downtown YMCA plans free water safety sessions for kids and adults

As families head out to lakes and pools for Memorial Day weekend, the Greater Wichita YMCA is hoping to reduce water-related fatalities this season by offering a series of free water safety sessions for both children and adults.

The sessions, sponsored by Koch Industries, will begin Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Robert D. Love Downtown YMCA, 402 N. Market.

“We’re not instructing them to swim, necessarily – we’re teaching basic tools kids can use should they find themselves in an unfortunate situation in the water,” said Shelly Conrady, communications director at the YMCA.

The Downtown YMCA will open its pool for these sessions from 11:30 a.m. to noon each Tuesday and Thursday from June 4 to Aug. 1 this summer.

About one in five people who die from drowning are under the age of 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are especially high in children ages 1 to 4.

“We’ve seen this unfortunate trend and wanted to do something to help out,” Conrady said. “We want to give everyone the chance to stay safe.”

Often if a parent is not comfortable around water, children have a greatly reduced chance of learning how to swim, Conrady said.

“Oftentimes we have to talk to parents who have a fear of water,” she said. “Small children can be fearless around new situations, and they don’t know they should fear the water until they learn water safety.”

While the safety session are for children, Conrady said it is equally as important for adults to practice water safety, especially around lakes and other unsupervised bodies of water.