For some kids, a dip in the pool or lake can be a fun way to cool off and get exercise. But for kids who don't know how to swim, going in the water can be a terrifying experience.
And, tragically, that fear can turn deadly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70 percent of African-American children, 58 percent of Hispanic children, and 40 percent of white children have little or no swimming ability and are at risk of water-related injury or death.
In response to that national trend, the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee and Milwaukee County Parks have partnered to offer low cost swimming lessons — Milwaukee Swims — for kids 6 and older and for non-swimming adults.
Lessons are offered at Jackson, Washington, and Sheridan pools, as well as Schultz Aquatic Center in Lincoln Park and Pelican Cove in Kosciuszko Park.
Trained instructors work with students at all levels of swimming confidence, taking extra time with those especially scared of the water, emphasizing water safety.
Instructors demonstrate life-saving techniques like remaining calm, treading water, and doing the black-float. Students also practice holding their breath and swimming underwater.
The Milwaukee Swims initiative began in late June, but in an effort to reach as many people as possible, the YMCA will accept on-site registration through August, said spokesperson Jason Byrne.
The lessons are $5 per student or $10 per household. Byrne said the YMCA will provide scholarships families who cannot afford lessons.
Click the podcast player above the photos to meet a brother and sister duo, ages 6 and 9, attending a class at Lincoln Park.