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Why Coquitlam's YMCA is offering free water safety courses this month

Swimming is a "critical life skill," says YMCA spokesperson David Woollven.
The swimming pool at the Bettie Allard YMCA in Coquitlam.

Drowning is preventable.

That's the message from YMCA BC, and for the month of May, the organization is offering free water safety courses to interested families with young kids.

This includes the new Bettie Allard YMCA in Coquitlam that opened in January — located at 555 Emerson St.

Instructors are set to teach parents and children as young as three basic swimming skills, as well as an assessment of their current abilities, as drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children in Canada.

According to Lifesaving Society BC, as of 2020, the drowning death rate in children under five years old is one in 100,000 and 92 per cent take place when an adult isn't nearby.

"Swimming is not only a fun, healthy activity, but a critical life skill," said David Woollven, YMCA BC vice president for health, fitness and aquatics, in a news release.

He noted it's never too late to learn water safety, especially for young kids.

"Learning water safety skills will not only keep you safe around water but is a great introduction to the world of swimming that often continues with swim lessons and competitive swim programs, and can even lead to a career."

Woolven added YMCA staff is always encouraging local residents to stay safe when in water and is "committed to reducing water-related injuries."

He believes the swim classes are also an opportunity for kids to expand on their physical activity.

"Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem."

The free water safety courses at Bettie Allard YMCA are scheduled for Friday (May 12) until May 20 at various times and with limited spots.

Sessions are divided among intermediate or beginner swimmers, for kids aged six to 13, as well as preschool beginners, for kids aged three to six.

For more information, you can visit the swim lessons page of YMCA BC's website.