Brooklyn Eberth, 5, works on floating with the help of volunteer instructor Greg Jourdan during a free swim lesson offered by the Wenatchee Valley YMCA in 2017.

WENATCHEE — With the season turned to summer, the Wenatchee Valley YMCA encourages children and parents in Chelan and Douglas counties to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind.

In Y swim programs, participants can enjoy water sports, enhance or learn new techniques, meet new friends and develop confidence, while also learning safety skills that can save lives.

“Swimming in open water is different than a pool and where so many kids spend their summers. Our hope is to teach the child and parent how to remain safe on shore and in the waters this season,” said Dorry Foster, CEO of Wenatchee Valley YMCA. “Learning basic water-safety skills is a great introduction to the world of swimming that should continue with a life- long passion for water recreation.”

As part of the YMCA’s commitment to water safety to reduce drownings, free community swim lessons are available for 500 children and 25 teens and adults as part of its Y-SPLASH outreach. Registration is open now for the program that will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. July 9 and 10 at Walla Walla Point Park. Pick your day and prepare for fun!

The YMCA encourages parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming — beginning with water safety. Following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:

Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone.

Adults should constantly and actively watch their children.

Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach.

Children and adults should not engage in breath-holding activities.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing.

As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, the Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for more than 100 years. The Wenatchee Valley YMCA continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose, including progressive swim lessons, family swim and youth swim that ensures everyone has an opportunity to participate; scholarships are available for those that qualify.

To learn more about the YMCA’s swim programs, call 662-2109 or email diane@wenymca.org.

Emily Johnson is the marketing coordinator for the Wenatchee Valley YMCA.