Swimming isn’t just a recreational activity. It’s a skill that saves lives. Swimming lessons – for kids and adults – are essential as they instill both an appreciation for water safety AND the knowledge and skills needed to survive in the water.
As the largest provider of swimming lessons in the U.S., the YMCA recently made changes to the swimming curriculum to better focus on the skills required and learned at each swimming level.
This new structure takes effect this month at all YMCA of Central Kentucky locations.
The new curriculum is broken down into three broad categories: Swim Starters, Swim Basics and Swim Strokes. Within each of these categories are stages corresponding to the student’s abilities and skills. Students are grouped with other students within the same age range: 6 months to 3 years; 3 to 5 years; 5 to 12 years of age; teens and adults.
The new curriculum and structure does away with the fish species names that previously defined each swim level. This allows the classes to be presented in a clear, concise and easy-to-understand structure based on fundamental and advanced swimming skills.
The new swim nomenclature is as follows:
Swim Starters – ages 6 months to 3 years
Accompanied by a parent, infants and toddlers learn to be comfortable in the water and develop swim readiness skills through fun and confidence-building experiences, while parents learn about water safety, drowning prevention, and the importance of supervision.
• WATER DISCOVERY – Parents accompany children in stage A, which introduces infants and toddlers to the aquatic environment through exploration and encourages them to enjoy themselves while learning about the water.
• WATER EXPLORATION – In stage B, parents work with their children to explore body positions, floating, blowing bubbles, and fundamental safety and aquatic skills.
Swim Basics – ages 3 to 5 years; 5 to 12 years; teens and adults
Students learn personal water safety and achieve basic swimming competency by learning two benchmark skills: Swim, float, swim— sequencing front glide, roll, back float, roll, front glide, and exit and Jump, push, turn, grab
• WATER ACCLIMATION – In stage 1, students develop comfort with underwater exploration and learn to safely exit in the event of falling into a body of water. This stage lays the foundation that allows for a student’s future progress in swimming.
• WATER MOVEMENT – In stage 2, students focus on body position and control, directional change, and forward movement in the water while also continuing to practice how to safely exit in the event of falling into a body of water.
• WATER STAMINA – In stage 3, students learn how to swim to safety from a longer distance than in previous stages in the event of falling into a body of water. This stage also introduces rhythmic breathing and integrated arm and leg action.
Swim Strokes – 3 to 5 years; 5 to 12 years; 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.
• STROKE INTRODUCTION – Students in stage 4 develop stroke technique in front crawl and back crawl and learn the breaststroke kick and butterfly kick. Water safety is reinforced through treading water and elementary backstroke.
• STROKE DEVELOPMENT – Students in stage 5 work on stroke technique and learn all major competitive strokes. The emphasis on water safety continues through treading water and sidestroke.
• STROKE MECHANICS – In stage 6, students refine stroke technique on all major competitive strokes, learn about competitive swimming, and discover how to incorporate swimming into a healthy lifestyle.
Don’t know how to swim?
Not sure about your kids’ skills?
The YMCA of Central Kentucky offers free swim assessments year-round for members and program participants. Every youth swimmer, age 12 and under must go through a swim skills assessment with a certified Y staff member before using the Y’s aquatic facilities. Stop by the membership desk at any YMCA of Central Kentucky location and ask for information.
• C.M. Gatton Beaumont YMCA, 3251 Beaumont Circle. (859) 219-9622
• North Lexington Family YMCA, 381 W. Loudon Ave. (859) 258-9622
• High Street YMCA, 239 E. High St. (859) 254-9622
• Whitaker Family YMCA, 2681 Old Rosebud Road. (859) 543-9622