Springboard to water safety: Marco Y program to benefit community

Aquatics Director Morgan Joseph works with a young swimmer at the Greater Marco Family YMCA pool.

Right on cue, extra funding has boosted the Greater Family Marco YMCA's 2019 mission of "Safety Around Water."

The money comes from the USA Swimming Foundation, which reviewed 240 applications from around the country before choosing 85 programs to receive grants.

Aquatics Director Morgan Joseph said the money will provide subsidized swim lessons to at least 50 area children from lower income families.

These funds bolster money raised earlier this year to implement a broader, island-wide water safety awareness program, Joseph said.

The pool at the Y is in almost constant use due to the popularity of its various programs.
Aquatics Director Morgan Joseph displays the "Puddle Jumper," a US Coast Guard-approved child flotation device that will be available for members and non-members (with a returnable deposit).

"We want to get the drowning rate down," she said. There's a canal or a pool in everyone's back yard."

To get the message out, Joseph has put together a safety checklist brochure that will be distributed at places like vacation rental offices, the Marco Island Civic Association and also the local Chamber of Commerce.

One tip, for example, suggests pool gate alarms.

"They might cost just $15, but they could save a life," Joseph said.

Also in the mix is a foolproof, US Coast Guard-approved lifejacket call the Puddle Jumper. It buckles closed at the back, so cannot be loosened by a child.

"People who do seasonal or vacation rentals can pick them up here for (a returnable) deposit of $20, Joseph said.

These additional programs slot in with regular Y swim and safety programs. Group lessons are available for children (non-members pay a little more), while private adult lessons are also offered. Sign up at marcoymca.org.

The popular parent/child lessons for kids up to 2 are another alternative.

As an incentive, youngsters who register for group swim lessons by attending Healthy Kids Day on April 27 will pay only $10 per session for those lessons.

In addition, there's an underwater Easter egg hunt scheduled for April 18. It's free for both members and non-members.

"So basically, we offer lessons for everybody, Joseph said.

In congratulating its 2019 grant recipients, the USA Swimming Foundation notes in a release that since 2007 it has awarded more than $6-million to help fund learn-to-swim programs across the country.

For more information on the Safety Around Water programs, contact Joseph at aquatics@marcoy.org, and to find out more about the Y's wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit marcoymca.org or call 394-YMCA (9622). Follow on Twitter at ymcamarco; on Facebook @marcoymca, and Instagram at ymcamarco.