HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Dozens of third-grade students from Triangle Lake Elementary at the High Point Swim Club pool are both excited and nervous.
"Some have never had the opportunity or chance to even get in a pool, let alone have instruction in the pool," said Erika Dawkins, one of the staff members.
Over the next several weeks, the students will take six 30-minute lessons at High Point Swim Club through a free program called Swim 4 Fun-Swim 4 Life, which is now in its 10th year.
"It's a great learning process and all the coaches are so friendly and so knowledgeable and so gentle in the process," said Audrey Miller, a volunteer with the program. "It's not at all a 'throw them in the deep end and good luck' swim. It's a gentle guiding process where they teach them not to be afraid."
Organizers of the Swim 4 Fun-Swim 4 Life say drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children in the United States and this program aims to turn that statistic around.
"I love seeing their transformation and you can see it within the first few minutes of being in the water," Dawkins said. "When they try something new and they succeed at it, it just lights up their face."
Swim 4 Fun-Swim for Life boosts confidence and promotes a healthy lifestyle. But according to Head Coach Aaron Reeves, the mission of the program is even bigger.
"I can't feed people here. I can't clothe them here, but I can teach them how to swim and give them that life skill," Reeves said.
Thanks in part to support from the High Point Community Foundation, transportation, a swimsuit and a healthy snack are provided for each of the participating students at no cost to them.
Learn more here.