Swimmingly good partnership

Published 9:27 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A partnership among several local nonprofit organizations recently taught more than 30 students to swim — and that’s extraordinarily important.

Water abounds here in Hampton Roads. We have not only creeks and rivers that run all through Suffolk but also the bay and the ocean within driving distance. There are retention ponds. There are backyard pools of all shapes and sizes and community pools. And it’s never safe to assume a child won’t eventually end up in one of these bodies of water, whether intentionally or unintentionally and no matter how much parents and other guardians may try to keep them out.

Swimming may be an Olympic sport and a fun summer pastime, but it’s also a vital life skill. Teaching children to swim, at least adequately enough to survive if they find themselves in a body of water, is as important as making sure they are in proper restraints in the car or teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street.

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The Suffolk Chapter of the Links Inc. recently held the culmination of its program, Swim Like a Fish, at the Suffolk Family YMCA. The chapter received a $5,000 grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation to begin the program and another $2,000 from the Suffolk Foundation to continue the program.

Recently, more than 30 children graduated from the program. Not only did they gain this vital life skill, but the club hopes they have broader horizons and may go on to swimming in school.

“We want to have better, more confident children swimming in Suffolk,” said Duanne Hoffler-Foster, chapter president. “Now they can join swimming teams and get scholarships to college for this. We are really trying to transform our community.”

We applaud all of our local organizations who were involved in this effort and will continue to be involved. The work won’t end until every child in Suffolk knows how to swim.