Westport Y takes part in World’s Largest Swimming Lesson
WESTPORT — Children made a splash at the Westport-Weston Family YMCA pool when they became part of the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on Thursday afternoon.
The international event, now in its 10th year, is designed to build awareness and teach kids how to swim to prevent drowning. The organization estimates approximately 600 locations in 20 countries will conduct beginner swimming lessons this year.
“Something we are trying to do a lot is promote water safety,” Aquatics Director Jennifer McDonald said. “Being in Connecticut, being in Westport, there’s pools, there’s lakes, there’s beaches, there’s water wherever you go. ... We want to make sure that you are as aware as you can be, so its educating the parents as well as the kids.”
As this is the first year the Westport Y is participating, McDonald said she was hoping for about 20 children to show up for a free swim lesson.
“Hopefully we are able to do this next year and for many years to come. And we want to get as many people in as possible, no matter where they’re from,” she said.
While the tally came up a bit short, the event drew people from beyond Westport, including Michele Ames.
The Redding parent brought her son Joshua, 6, for a lesson with instructors. “He’s learning his strokes now,” she said.
Westport parent Zeheer Sherazi also brought his three children to the event, saying it’s good for them to have lessons and fun in the water.
“They’re very comfortable,” Sherazi said of his two eldest children, Ali and Babi, while 2-year-old Munii splashed on the sidelines.
McDonald plans to further promote water safety awareness through posters, a water safety day event, and a Water Watchers program for parents. Additionally, the Y offers swim camps and lessons throughout the year.
Going into summer, “everyone hears about these very scary, potentially fatal drowing incidents,” she said. “We want to keep that as few as possible, keep every kid as safe as possible, so I’m hoping this is kind of a start toward that.”