Elementary students in Kenosha get free swimming lessons as lifeguard shortage continues

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Some kids in Kenosha are learning life-saving skills with free swim classes at the Kenosha YMCA this summer.

Dozens of kids from Curtis Strange and McKinley Elementary Schools will take these classes once a week.

"Every Tuesday. We have about 56 kids between kindergarten and fifth grade," Alison Iglehart, special education teacher at Curtis Strange Elementary, said.

For many of them, it's their first time getting a lesson.

"I think in the community, we're right by a Great Lake. It's just important for students and kids just to know survival. Know how to float, know how to swim," she said.

The American Red Cross of Wisconsin, the Kenosha YMCA and Kenosha Unified School District are funding the classes. This is the first year for a program like this for them.

"If you think about COVID the last couple of years, a lot of kids may not have been in the pool or water at all, so really critical time to have these kids learn these skills," Justin Kern, with the Red Cross, said.

It's perfect timing, as many swimming pools and beaches struggle to find lifeguards.

"As many tools we can provide families to feel safe when they're going out on the water, I just think that's going to be a benefit knowing there's few lifeguards," Kern said. "Part of this program is to make sure areas where we've seen higher instances of drowning…that for those kids there's fewer barriers to get those skills to be safe and confident."

For a list of swimming classes in your area, click here

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