Raleigh YMCA hopes free swim lessons curb drownings - WRBL

Raleigh YMCA hopes free swim lessons curb drownings

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19-year-old Braxton "Philly" Horton drowned over the weekend at Atlantic Beach. 19-year-old Braxton "Philly" Horton drowned over the weekend at Atlantic Beach.
Molly Flynn, aquatics director at the Alexander YMCA in Raleigh says they're working to break that cycle with the "Swim for Life" program. Molly Flynn, aquatics director at the Alexander YMCA in Raleigh says they're working to break that cycle with the "Swim for Life" program.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A Raleigh YMCA kicks off its "Swim for Life" program amidst recent drowning incidents.

Raleigh teen and recent Athens Drive graduate, Braxton Horton, drowned Saturday at Atlantic Beach. Horton was said to be an inexperienced swimmer.

Horton's death comes about a week after another North Carolina teen, Onslow County High School's Shak Pershey, drowned at Topsail Beach.

Both teens were believed to be swept away by currents.

Recent drowning incidents are highlighting a bigger issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 30 percent of black children and 40 percent of Latino children know how to swim.  Only 13 percent of minorities go on to learn to swim as adults.

The CDC says minorities drown three times more often than whites.

Molly Flynn, aquatics director at the Alexander YMCA in Raleigh says they're working to break that cycle with the "Swim for Life" program.

"I think if you have some knowledge or experience in the water that could help you and maybe save your life," says Flynn.

The "Swim for Life" program targets low income communities, where swim lessons and public pool access may not otherwise be possible, by offering a week of four free swim lessons.

"They come with nothing. No knowledge, no experience or a great fear of the water and by the end of the four days at 'Swim for Life,' they're moving and grooving in the water," says Flynn.

Participants who complete the program qualify for a voucher for six additional free swim lessons at the Alexander branch.

The "Swim for Life" program happens three times per year at the Alexander YMCA. The next session is June 10-13. These sessions are open to children older than five and adults.

To participate, fill out a registration form and return in to the Alexander Family YMCA located at 1603 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh.

 For more information, contact Molly Flynn, Alexander YMCA Aquatics Department at Molly.Flynn@YMCATrianlge.org

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