Dougherty Co. offering free swimming lessons for kids

Dougherty Co. offering free swimming lessons for kids
Published: Jun. 4, 2022 at 8:08 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2022 at 12:39 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The city of Albany wants kid’s summer to begin with a splash but in a safe way.

Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler partnered up with Swim For Life to give away free swimming lessons. Fowler said it’s about much more than learning how to swim. He said it’s also about them being safe and healthy.

“Keep the kids out of trouble, keep them doing something,” Fowler said.

Coroner Michael Fowler wants 320 or more kids to be signed up
Coroner Michael Fowler wants 320 or more kids to be signed up(WALB)

With a string of gun deaths that WALB has reported on over the past weeks, Fowler said organizing an event like this helps kids be productive during their summer.

“Many kids in our area may not be able to afford it. For the ones that are saying that, we want to help them get their child to learn to swim,” he said.

The goal for him is to continue having 0 drowning deaths in the county.

Albany YMCA, the city of Albany and the Boys and Girls Club of Albany are giving away lessons. Anyone can call the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club to ask for a free lesson within the next week.

Dan Gillan, The President and CEO of YMCA in Albany, said that he gets to see in person the people learning to swim.

”Every single day. To see kids get it, to see kids maybe overcome fear of water (and) maybe to learn respect for the water,” Gillan said.

Gillan also said it takes time but it’s a valuable skill to have for safety and for fun. He said lessons usually inspire parents to take lessons themselves.

“The reality is that once moms and dads bring their kids to these swim lessons, often times they don’t know how to swim or want to make sure they’re more comfortable in the water,” Gillan said.

Delvin Hawkins said he was one of those kids who never learned how to swim and having pools and recreation in Albany is a huge opportunity for today’s kids.

“I grew up in a rural area not too far from here and we didn’t have a city swimming pool. I didn’t learn to swim until college. You always want what’s best for the next generation,” he said.

Briana Mitchell is a parent who’s glad the city is opening free swim lessons back up this summer. She signed her eldest son up for the program and plans to get her other kids more involved in recreational sports like boxing and soccer.

A parent looks to sign up her children for the free lessons
A parent looks to sign up her children for the free lessons(WALB)

”I learned to swim when I was five, so I’m going to make sure my son is learning how to swim because he is very scared of water,” said Mitchell.

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