Swimming Skills to the Rescue | West Suburban YMCA

Mission Moment: Swimming Skills to the Rescue

Amanda Pierce

May 14, 2020

May is National Water Safety Month and with summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to remind parents why it is so important for their children to learn water safety. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5 to 14. Even in the midst of a pandemic, parents and children must remember to be water aware!

This past week I received a message from Dennis, a Y parent, regarding a water safety emergency that occurred while on a bike ride. He and his daughter, Elexis shared their story.

“Swimming rescues came to the rescue! My 5 year old daughter and I were on an adventure riding our bikes around the lake. She lost control of her bike and ended up in the lake, along with her bike. She did not panic. She was able to escape her bike, then used her water safety and swimming skills to come back to shore from about 4-5 feet out where she could not touch the bottom of the lake.”

Dennis was very proud and amazed at what his daughter was able to do. Elexis responded so calmly and she was back to shore so quickly that dad only needed to help her out of the water, then rescue the bike. Elexis has been taking swim lessons since she was 6 months old, and now, at almost 6 years old, her preparedness was key to staying safe. Bringing this amazing story to a close, Dennis added, “Luckily, I’m always prepared and had an extra set of clothes for her so she could be dry for the mile bike ride back home.”

Thank you to Dennis and Elexis for sharing their story! Before letting your children hit the water this summer, remember these few tips to guarantee a fun and safe experience for everyone:


  1. Always ask for permission before entering the water.
    Get your children in the habit of asking permission before they enter any body of water. This establishes a communication pattern so that kids don’t swim unsupervised. 
  2. Never swim alone.
    Constant supervision is essential whether it’s during bath time or while taking a dip. Make sure that your children are within arm’s reach of you at all times when near the water.  
  3. Don’t engage in breath holding activities.
    Children shouldn’t hold their breath for a prolonged period of time regardless of if they’re in the water or not. Doing so may lead to death or other severe physical side-effects.
  4. Wear a Life Jacket.
    Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when around water.  
  5. Don’t jump in to save someone who is struggling in deep water.
    When you see someone struggling in deep water, your natural reaction may be to jump in and try to save him/her. Even if you are a great swimmer, a panicked person could overpower you and pull you under with them. Instead, call for assistance and use a long object to reach for them and pull him/her to safety. You could also toss him/her a flotation device. This allows you to help without risking your own safety. 
  6. Enroll your children in swim lessons.
    Just like teaching your children to look both ways before they cross the street, having them participate in formal swim lessons teaches them an important life skill. The WSYMCA’s swim lessons include the instruction of water safety skills. This ensures that they are able to enjoy the water safely while striving for physical achievement, which in turn builds confidence and promotes healthy living.


While the West Suburban YMCA facility is closed at this time, we encourage all families to keep in mind water safety tips #1-5 in particular as the weather gets warmer. We also invite you to join our WSY Aquatics group on Facebook for activities you can do on land!