Third grade students at Red Bank Primary School and Red Bank Charter School gained valuable swimming and water safety skills in the Y’s annual Third Grade Swim program, which concluded this week. The water safety initiative was developed to give all third graders the opportunity for no-cost swimming and water safety lessons as part of their school day.

“The Y is committed to nurturing the potential of all children and giving them opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive,” said The Community YMCA President and CEO Rhonda Anderson. “Basic swimming and water safety are important lifelong skills and essential for children in our Shore area.”

The Third Grade Swim program began in 2011 and has helped approximately 600 children learn how to be safe in and around water. This year’s program included four, 45-minute swim lessons at the Y’s Family Health and Wellness Center in Red Bank. Swim lessons included basic stroke development, paddling, treading and floating skills.

Y Senior Aquatics Director Jaimie Hinshelwood said about 70 percent of the 141 third graders completing the program had little or no swim skills when they began the program. However, after completing the four swim lessons “100% have strong water safety knowledge and are able to paddle on their own with no flotation device.”

Red Bank Primary Principal Luigi Laugelli said the district “is grateful for the opportunity of third graders to learn how to swim and to be aware of how to be safe in and around the water.”

The third graders will have the chance to continue to practice their swimming skills at the Y this summer as part of their free Healthy Kids Membership, which The Community YMCA provides to all Red Bank children in grades pre-k to 8.

“The Red Bank Charter School community is grateful for the water safety program and all the opportunities the Y has provided our children to strengthen our focus on healthy lifestyles,” said Red Bank Charter School Principal Meredith Pennotti.

The Third Grade Swim program was made possible through a $1,000 grant from the Redwoods Group and the generosity of local donors who contribute to the Y’s annual campaign. Through gifts to the campaign, the Y is able to provide community programs and scholarships to over 2,000 area children and families in support of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. This includes the Learn-to-Swim initiative, a weeklong program, June 20-24, which invites local residents with little or no swimming ability to receive five swim lessons for a nominal fee.

For more information, visit www.TheCommunityYMCA.org.