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Orokawa Y in Towson to offer free swim class to curb child drowning risk

The Orokawa Y in Towson will offer a free swimming class in June for kids without prior swimming experience to learn basic safety skills, officials said.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between 5 and 14 years old, according to Amy Vendt, swim and program director for the Ward Y in Abingdon. The free swim classes, she said, are designed to curb that risk by teaching kids water skills.

“It is focused on children who have not been exposed to the water or formal swim lessons, recognizing statistics prove that with formal swim lessons they’re less likely to drown,” Vendt said.

Towson Y swim director Kim Capone said the class for children ages 5 to 12 will be held daily from June 24 to 28 in two, 45-minute sessions — one at 3 p.m. and one at 4 p.m. Parents can register their children for the free classes online.

Vendt said the program, which is offered in other Y locations around the state, is geared especially toward children from low-income families, who are less likely to have been exposed to swim lessons. African-American children especially are a focus because they are much more likely to die of drowning than their white peers, she said.

The program starts by evaluating each child’s safety skills, such as breath control, floating and pushing off the bottom of a pool. Through the week, children work on those skills. The Y also will communicate with parents, encouraging them to pledge to actively watch children when they are around water, Vendt said.

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