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Free Swim Program at Waldo County YMCA 

Joy Hollowell

Now that warmer weather is on our doorstep, lots of Mainers are getting outside.And for many of us, that includes time in or on the water.The Waldo County YMCA is giving area kids a leg up on safety.Joy Hollowell tells us about the “First-Graders for Free” swim program.=========Twice a week, first graders at Captain Albert Stevens Elementary School in Belfast, trade in their pencils and papers for bathing suits and beach towels. “nat sound- bubbles”The floating classroom is a brand new pilot program being offered through the Waldo County YMCA, at their newly opened pool complex.”We told our donors when we were asking them for money, that we would give all first graders in Waldo County a chance to learn how to swim,” says Dale Cross, Executive Director of the Waldo County YMCA.The four week course focuses primarily on water safety, both in pools and out on Maine’s waterways.”First graders are the easiest level to teach, because they’re not afraid of the water yet,” explains Cross.The students are bussed in from their schools, for classes that last about 45 minutes.” We’re very appreciative of the Y offering this program to the kids,” says Carole McClure, a first grade teacher at Captain Albert Stevens Elementary School. “Last week, we had a couple of students not sure of the water and you can see already they’ve gotten in and they love it.”First grade student Andrew says he loves going under water.Fellow first grader Jason says his favorite part of swim class is “everything.”======Students at Captain Albert Stevens are the first to participate in the pilot program. The Waldo County YMCA is now in the process of coordinating with other schools.