Richmond County students are learning how to swim through the Splash program at the Family Y and Kroc Center. (WRDW-TV / Jan. 24, 2012)
News 12 This Morning / Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Every day this week for about an hour, second grade students from Richmond County travel to places like the Family Y and the Kroc Center to start their school day with a swimming lesson.
Coming up for air, when it's a matter of life or death, is knowledge every young child should have.
"There are so many kids that don't have a chance to participate in a swim lesson here in the Richmond County area," said Danny McConnell, president and CEO of the Family Y.
In partnership with the Kroc Center, the Family Y found enough pool space to reach out to Richmond County's 3,200 second grade students.
"It is a non-testing year. It's a great age group to work with, yet they are not too old to develop too many bad habits around the pool," McConnell said.
The lessons are not only fun but valuable.
"I've been learning how to float and used the kick board," said Logan Moroy, a second grader.
Jumping right into the lesson from day one, the week-long Splash safety course includes teaching students how to stay afloat, learning who to call for when help is needed and other survival skills in the pool.
"Make sure they learn enough water survival safety. So, if something happened," McConnell explained. "They could stay above, float so someone can get to them."
The instruction on the water comes at a cost -- $62,000 per year, which is partially paid for by donations.
Even though the students are losing some class time, they're gaining a skill that could save their lives one day.
"You could drown if you don't do that," Moroy said.
Some families don't have a choice when it comes to swimming lessons.
"I think that is what it is about for many families from a priority stand point, the family budget can't afford to do it," McConnell said.
That's why the Family Y is stepping in and making a splash.
"I'm a swimming person, I really like swimming," Moroy shouted.
The students have a few more strokes to learn, but this is one lesson they'll never forget. The free program for students has been in the works since spring of last year.
Program organizers say they are hoping to do this every year and even extend it into a few other counties if they receive enough support.