YMCA Swim Lessons Allow Kids to be Comfortable in the Water

Dean McLaughlin built confidence in the water at YMCA swim lessons

For Liz McLaughlin, it was never a question of if her son, Dean, would end up in the pool. It was a question of when.

Growing up, McLaughlin was at home around a pool, particularly with her friends. Once she got married, she saw the effect that not being comfortable with the pool had because of her mother-in-law’s aversion to it, and it reinforced her beliefs that Dean should find his way into the water immediately.

“I grew up around the pool and all of my pool friends were my best friends,” McLaughlin said. “Some of my best memories growing up are of swimming together with my friends, and I wanted to have that for my kids, too. My mother-in-law doesn’t know how to swim and is terrified of water, and I wanted to make sure my kids were confident near the water.”

That’s why it didn’t take long for Dean to get in the pool at the West Chester Area YMCA . When he was six months old, Liz and Dean got in the pool together in the Mommy and Me program, where Dean met his first best friend, whose mom is now one of Liz’s best friends. After a little time away from the Y pool, Dean came back for group lessons, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“I tell people all the time about the swim lessons,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve recruited lots of people to the Y and I tell them, ‘just get them in the water so they’re comfortable,’ for safety reasons, first of all. It’s really important that kids can be around pools and know what to do. Last year, I had my three-year-old daughter, Audrey, who’d been in lessons and Mommy and Me, at the pool. She fell in the pool, but then she sort of turned over and floated the way she was taught in her swimming lessons at WCAY, and then we were able to get her. It’s important to be able to swim with your friends and have fun and it’s important to know how to be safe around the pool and in the water.”

Water Comfort Has its Advantages

Like McLaughlin, Colleen Brawn didn’t need any convincing to get her son, Logan, in the water. Logan was admittedly nervous the first few times in the water for lessons, but every class brought improvements.

“I like that it’s a small-group class at the West Chester Area YMCA,” Brawn said. “It was more of a relaxed atmosphere and very child-friendly. I really enjoyed that.”

McLaughlin also had the built-in advantage of having Dean swim with the same kids that he hung out with in childcare. The camaraderie carried over to the pool, which is another reason why Dean always felt so comfortable in the pool.

“The community at the Y has been huge to us, especially with Dean being in group lessons and having his buddies in all of his classes,” McLaughlin said. “I don’t think you get that if you’re going to another place. You don’t get to know the kids as well and you don’t have the opportunities to make friendships. I really like that. The community aspect is huge.”

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