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Swim lessons HPS


For immediate release: December, 2023


In an effort to equip young minds with essential life skills, second-grade students at Southwest Elementary School of Hickory Public Schools have successfully completed a six-week swimming program focused on proper swimming techniques and water safety. The initiative, made possible through a generous grant, not only provided a unique educational experience but also underscored the importance of water safety in the community.

The 2023 Swim Lesson Scholarship Grant, funded by Y-USA, aimed to empower students with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate water environments confidently and safely. Erin Sigmon, Principal at Southwest Elementary School selected the second graders due to the need she saw throughout her school.

Over the course of six weeks, the ninety-one students engaged in structured swimming lessons conducted by certified swimming instructors at Hickory Foundation YMCA. 71% of the Earth is covered in water and teaching children how to be safe in and around water is crucial. The YMCA helps those of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds develop skills they need to become strong, confident swimmers. Parents and guardians have a critical role to play in teaching their kids water safety skills – but they don’t have to do it alone. Each year, the Y teaches more than one million kids life-saving swimming and safety around water skills.

Key highlights of the program included:

  • Fundamental Swimming Techniques: Students learned basic swimming strokes, breathing techniques, and body positioning to enhance their swimming abilities.
  • Water Safety Education: The curriculum prioritized water safety education, instilling in students the importance of awareness, caution, and responsible behavior in and around aquatic environments. They were taught proper form for entrance and exiting bodies of water and not to enter without an adult.
  • Life-saving Skills: Second graders were introduced to basic life-saving skills, including floating, treading water, and reaching assists, fostering a sense of self-reliance and teamwork. Students who would not have had the opportunity to swim were taught how to relax and use their bodies to float.
  • Confidence Building: Through positive reinforcement and encouragement from instructors and peers, students developed a sense of accomplishment and gained confidence in their swimming abilities.

The grant from Y-USA played a pivotal role in making this program possible, emphasizing the organization's commitment to fostering holistic education and
community well-being. Principal Sigmon expressed gratitude for the opportunity provided by the grant, stating, "This program has not only enriched our students' educational experience but has also equipped them with crucial life skills. We are grateful to the Y for their support in making this initiative a reality. We enjoyed seeing the students learn in a safe and fun environment with encouragement from their peers. The Y met the needs of each student and we are grateful for this partnership.”

As this program has concluded, Hickory Public Schools is looking forward to building on the success of this initiative and exploring additional opportunities to further the educational experiences of its students with additional funding and donations.


YMCA Contact: Ryan Pegarsch | 828-838-1561 | [email protected]