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Free swim classes in New York City for kids

July 26, 2012 1:32:29 PM PDT
Lakes, oceans, and pools, they all can be dangerous and deadly places if a person can't swim.

According to the Centers for Disease Control an average of nine people drown every day.

That's why is so important learn this survival skill early in life.

In New York City, the Parks Department has a free swimming program that's teaching children how to swim.

It's the "Learn to Swim Program" taught at 36 sites citywide like at the Jackie Robinson pool in Harlem.

The instructors are nationally certified by the American Red Cross.

"Most of the kids that come in this water have never been in the water before or they have a huge fear of the water and our job is to get them to be, you know not afraid of water to realize that there is nothing scary about being in the water," said Saughn Lopes.

And swimming lessons are especially important for communities of color. One recent report said that black children are more likely to drown than white children.

"70 percent of African American kids can't swim, 56 percent of Hispanics American children can't swim. I think it has to do with access and opportunities," said John Hutchins with the New York City Parks Department.

And it's not just about learning how to swim, it's also about being safe in and around water

"For example, never swim without a lifeguard present! And even if a lifeguard is present, have a buddy with you or a parent with you. Never go in a boat without a life jacket," adds Hutchings.

LINK: www.nyc.gov/parks/citywideaquatics

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