Program possible through YMCA, MIFD and Coast Guard Auxiliary

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It was quite a day for third graders. They encountered struggling swimmers, shouted dozens of calls of "mayday, mayday," treated minor cuts and scrapes, and put on life jackets for their own safety.

The occasion was the annual "Water Wise" program put on by the YMCA of South Collier (the Marco Y's new official name), the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 9-5, and Marco Island Fire Rescue.

The program is specifically for third grade students from Marco as well as East Naples students, and is designed to instill respect for water as well as teach safety in and around pools, lakes, canals and indeed bigger bodies of water such as the Gulf.

"You don't go, you throw," was the message from MIFD's Chris Bowden at the side of the pool as he taught one of the revolving groups of students to use throw rings and standard fun noodles to pull fellow students to safety.

"Noodles are what the kids would typically use in pools," Bowden said.

At the Coast Guard Auxiliary's station at the Y pool, Walter Jaskiewicz infused a little humor into what was a serious subject.

He said waving politely for emergency help from a boat with one hand wouldn't cut it, because passing boaters might think it's simply a greeting.

"No, you wave with both arms up in the air," Jaskiewicz said, making them do it.

Jaskiewicz and some colleagues also put the rotating groups through radio protocol, how to don and use lifejackets in the water, and how to correctly exit boats in cases of emergency.

At another corner of the pool, Aquatics Director Morgan Joseph made her various groups don disposable gloves before applying Band Aids to a mannequin presumed to have cuts and abrasions.

She showed them the technique of putting on the gloves, and particularly how to remove them by avoiding touching "blood" on the outsides of the gloves.

At the end of the day, close to 100 students went to bed with a better knowledge of water safety, first aid, rescue, and boating safety.

For more on 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.

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