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Kids float with noodles in a pool while listening to a swim instructor

Kindergarteners listen to their instructor as they learn how to float in the pool. The kindergarten class of 2017 was the seventh group to participate in Water Turtles, meaning that almost all children from kindergarten-6th grade in Perquimans County now know how to swim.

Water Turtles

Winfall, NC

Perquimans County

At the end of each school year, all the kindergarteners in Perquimans County spend two weeks learning how to swim. Even though this county is surrounded by water, many of these students have never been in water before. After a series of drowning accidents, the school system decided to implement a water safety curriculum. They partnered with the YMCA, which provided the space and trained instructors. The school provides transportation, volunteers, and swim suits for the children.

On the first day, the kids sit on the side of the pool and kick in the water. As the classes continue, they learn how to float with life preservers and swim noodles. They also learn how to get in and out of a boat, climb a ladder in and out of water, submerge their eyes, mouth, and nose in water, throw a life preserver, and signal for help in an emergency. By the end of the two week-course, they are all able to tread water, and most importantly, they have learned to be comfortable in the water.

Along with ensuring children in Perquimans County know how to be safe in water, this program also encourages exercise by showing children how much fun they can have in water. The instructors also include information on nutritious snacks to further encourage healthy lifestyles.

To start a water safety program in your own community, you first need to identify a location to hold lessons. Many YMCAs offer a “Swim for Life” program, which provides free swim lessons for low-income families. You can also go to your county’s website to look for public pools, or visit the NC State Park’s website to see which parks have public swimming spots. Wherever you swim, make sure there is a lifeguard or other safety guide who can help in the event of an emergency.

You also need someone who knows how to teach swim lessons. The Red Cross offers Swim Instructor Certification Training, which teaches water safety and basic swimming skills for people of all ages. You can look for someone in your area who has this certification, or go through the training yourself.




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