‘Learn to Swim’ program comes to High Point

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- On a Monday morning, screams of delight and splashing is coming from the Hartley Drive Family YMCA pool.

"It definitely wakes me up in the morning" says Greensboro Aquatic Center swimming instructor Hannah Baggenstoss.

The kids are second-graders from High Point's Johnson Street Global Studies. They are at the pool because seven High Point elementary schools are now a part of the expanded "Learn to Swim" program.

"Learn to Swim" is a partnership made up of multiple schools and agencies like the Greensboro Aquatic Center. The group teaches Guilford County Schools second-graders basic techniques like floating, backstroke and freestyle over a two-week period. Robbie Smith, senior associate executive director of the Hartley Drive Family YMCA, says second grade is the perfect age to teach swimming.

"At that age they are able to learn quicker. They want to get in the water. They retain a little better and the instructors are teaching good fundamentals to the kids.”

The goal of "Learn to Swim" is to teach good swimming fundamentals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are 14 and younger. That's why bringing "Learn to Swim" to High Point school kids is so important to YMCA swimming instructor Colleen Mulligan.

"It’s so great to watch them overcome their fears and progress and be safe in the water and that’s what we all want.”

Plus Hannah Baggenstoss adds swimming can improve your character.

"Swimming is not easy it takes discipline and it’s good for kids to learn that and to apply it swimming or other parts of their lives too."

"Learn to Swim" is privately funded and free for Guilford County Schools second-graders. The group provides swimsuits and goggles to children if needed. Since 2011, nearly 3,000 Guilford County Schools second-graders have learned how to swim.

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