Louisville councilwoman partners with YMCA to offer free swim lessons

Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 7:06 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Free swimming lessons will be available for some Louisville kids, but Wednesday is the last day to sign up.

The swimming lessons are for up to 100 first through fifth graders who live in District 5, which is primarily made up of the Portland, Chickasaw and Shawnee neighborhoods.

“Urban youth drownings statistics are alarming, and the No. 1 reason is a lack of access to public pools and swimming lessons,” Councilwoman Donna Purvis said. “I am hopeful we can reduce those numbers with this free program in District 5.”

Purvis chose to use a portion of funding from the Neighborhood Development Fund to cover the costs of the lessons for her constituents.

“This is an individual council decision for what programs they want to fund or what programs they want to offer in their district,” Denise Bentley, District 5′s legislative assistant, said. “I think this has been a test that some of the other urban council members are saying, ‘We may need to do swimming also.’”

YMCA Greater Louisville CEO Steve Tarver told WAVE 3 News he has taught thousands of children how to swim, and enjoys seeing how the lessons help boost their confidence.

“You see their backbones become a little taller and straighter, their eyes sparkle and their heads go from ‘no I can’t’ to ‘yes I can,’” Tarver said.

Over the years, Tarver said he’s has seen how many children in Louisville lack access to pools and lessons.

“Two years ago I taught some classes as Central High School, and there were children who were begging me to teach them to swim, and the only reason they hadn’t learned to swim was because they hadn’t had the opportunity,” Tarver said. “As a community we need to make this opportunity available to every child in the Greater Louisville region.”

The West Louisville YMCA will be providing the free lessons, which will be given in eight sessions on the following days:

+ June 7 to June 10

+ June 14 to June 17

+ July 5 to July 8

+ July 12 to July 13

Transportation will be provided and pickups will be available from the Molly Leonard Center and the Shawnee Community Center.

Registration for the classes must be completed by June 2. Eight spots remain for the first June session.

For more information, call Denise Bentley in Councilwoman Purvis’ office at (502) 574-1105.

Purvis said the lessons are a pilot program and if there is enough interest additional lesson dates would be added.

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