The Importance of Learning to Swim This Summer

As the summer approaches, the Town of Manchester is excited to host Learn to Swim, a six-week program that aims to enrich the lives of local residents and provide all with the opportunity to learn to swim. All are welcome & encouraged to attend, regardless of age.

Due to COVID-related safety guidelines that were enforced to ensure the health and safety of all Manchester residents, no swimming lessons were offered at any of Manchester’s pool sites last summer. Learn to Swim aims to provide additional swim education opportunities to the Manchester community, one that may have not had the chance to do so during the past summer.

“[Learn to Swim] is hands-on and face-to-face; you couldn’t do that with the safety guidelines that were set in place [last summer]” Recreation Supervisor Josh Charette said.

While many enjoy the pools as a chance to cool off on a blistering day or get in some aerobic exercise, countless others are intimidated by pools and other water-based leisured activities. Some were simply never taught how to swim, and others have had painful experiences that prevent them from getting back in the water. In order to meet the needs of these individuals, Learn to Swim aims to allow everyone the opportunity to learn the essential tools to become a capable, confident swimmer.

 “It’s a life skill. By not having that life skill, you have stats such as that ten people drown every day or children under the age of one most often drown in bathtubs, buckets and toilets ” Charette emphasized.

Each day, there are dozens of emergency situations that could have been avoided had individuals been properly taught how to swim. Youth are at an especially high risk, and their immediate education is a necessity. According to the American Red Cross, children aged 1-4 most often drown in home swimming pools and hot tubs. Children aged 5-17 are most likely to drown in natural waters, such as lakes or ponds. However, the Red Cross reported that formal swimming lessons reduces the likelihood of childhood drowning by a staggering 88%.

Not only are there concerning drowning rates among the younger age groups, but lower-income communities and people of color are also disproportionally affected by a lack of proper swimming education. According to Pool Safely, 64% of Black youth and 45% of Hispanic youth have no or low swimming abilities.

Parent’s education is also a crucial factor in their children’s exposure to swimming lessons. Parents with no or low swimming skills create a much higher likelihood that their children won’t either; 70% of Black parents, 67% of Caucasian parents and 62% of Hispanic parents have little to no swimming experience. This creates a cycle in which a lack of education passes from parent to child, only increasing the odds of a water-based emergency.

“We need to make sure all our kids in town have the ability or knowledge to learn how to swim,” Charette said. “We need to push the fact that water safety needs to be a part of everyone’s life. Is it scary for parents? Yes, but we have adult swimming lessons too.”

Learn to Swim will run from June 28th through August 2nd. Globe Hollow, Salters Pool and Swanson Pool will run three sessions every hour in the late afternoon, Mondays through Friday. Teen lessons will be held at Swanson Pool on Mondays through Thursdays, 7 PM – 8 PM. The Marcy MacDonald Pool will run a mixture of morning and evening classes that are tailored toward infant & youth training.

Registration has opened, and while many reservation slots have been filled, there will be additional educational opportunities throughout the summer. For more information, please view the Town of Manchester’s online program guide.

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