Swimming is good exercise.
It's a good way to cool off on a hot summer day.
And it's fun.
"Swimming is a lifetime activity," Warren YMCA Aquatics Director Cathy Peterson said.
And it's a key safety issue.
"Especially in Warren County, we have a lot of water," Peterson said.
"Just the fact that we live near water makes it important that every child learn how to swim," Brokenstraw Valley Swimming Pool (BVSP) Director Bonnie Sickler said.
This summer, there are two programs where county residents can learn to swim - one at BVSP and one at the YMCA. The Warren municipal pool is closed this summer for renovations.
Both locations offer swimming lessons funded in large part through the Blair Learn-to-Swim program. The first sessions of the summer starts Monday at both facilities.
Sickler said the goal of the first stage of the program is to take children from not being able to swim to a level of basic water safety "where they're not afraid of the water, they're able to float, they're able to stay above water until someone could get to them."
Then the basic strokes are introduced.
"They start off with doggie paddle," Peterson said. "Front crawl and back crawl."
More advanced lessons are available at both facilities, up to and including lifeguard classes.
There are five levels of lessons at BVSP, not including the lifeguard class.
"I'd like to see them at least get through Rung 3," Sickler said. "Rung 3 teaches them the strokes. If you can get the basics of those strokes down, you can continue independently."
"It's just like anything," she said. "The more you practice, the more you do it, the more proficient you become."
Peterson said that although swimming is the primary subject matter, the program also goes over other water safety lessons, including boating safety and rules and personal flotation devices.
In addition to the Learn-to-Swim program, the YMCA offers lessons for members ages three and up, scuba classes, swim leagues, and lifeguard classes, and hosts local fire departments working on water training.
The BVSP offerings include a guardian and baby class in the wading pool; the babies must be able to stand. "We've had them as young as a year," Sickler said. "We get them a little water orientation."
Sickler said she has been contacted by the parents of children with disabilities who would like a separate class.
"It's something we're seriously thinking about," she said. "We've had one or two parents who have special needs kids - attention span, physical strength or coordination, autism."
But there has not been enough interest to justify the creation of a new class, Sickler said.
"If they would get in contact with us, we're trying to come up with a smaller class," she said. "We would be very interested in helping get these kids at least a little bit water safe."
Sickler said some of her motivation for wanting to help people learn to swim comes from her memory of the mother who could not save her seven-year-old from drowning because she could not swim.
"I will never forget the devastation," Sickler said. "Swimming lessons are very near and dear to my heart."
Children to be registered for lessons at the BVSP must sign up in person. Sickler said there is a basic evaluation of each registrant to help get everyone in the right rung from the beginning.
Registration will be held at BVSP from 5 to 6 p.m. on June 11, June 30, July 21, and July 26; and from noon to 1 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m. on June 14 and June 28.
Information about programs and registration is available by calling the YMCA at 726-0110 or BVSP at 563-9570.