Countryside YMCA swim instructor with young swimmer floating on her back

Countryside YMCA Receives Grant to Help More Warren County Children Learn to be Safe Around Water

Now the Y can increase availability of water safety and swim lessons in underserved communities

Warren County, OH – Through a generous grant of $6,700.00 by YMCA USA, Countryside YMCA is proud to offer a free session of swim lessons to 100 eligible children in Warren County this year. As part of the Y’s commitment to reduce drowning rates and keep kids safe in and around the water, Countryside YMCA will use the grant to provide scholarships for swim instruction and water safety to children from underserved communities in Warren County.

The mission of the YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.  “We try to bring that mission to life by identifying the needs of the community and then figuring out what are the ways we can meet those needs,” said CEO Chris Johnson. “This grant allows us to teach the lifesaving skill of swimming to more children and we are excited for the opportunity,” he added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years old. In ethnically diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average, according to a USA Swimming study. Additionally 64 percent of African-American children, 45 percent of Latino children, and 40 percent of Caucaian children have no or low swimming ability.

“Educating children how to be safe around water is just as important as teaching them to look both ways before they cross the street,” said Karla Toye, Director of Swim Lessons and Water Fitness at the Y. “The Y teaches children of all ages and backgrounds that water should be  fun, not feared, and this practice not only saves lives it builds confidence.”

The Y believes this is especially true following 2020’s COVID-19 shutdowns. In a typical year, Countryside YMCA teaches 4,800 in their swim programs—this decreased to 1,968 in 2020. “Due to all the COVID restrictions last year, we know there are children in our community who either weren’t able to start or couldn’t continue swim lessons and this puts them at more risk in and around water. We want to make every effort we can to reach those kids this year,” said Countryside YMCA Executive Director Holly Colón.

The Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for more than 40 years.  Countryside YMCA continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of aquatic programs to choose, including lap swim, recreational swim, swim lessons and pre-competitive and competitive swimming.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing—skills that last a lifetime.

To learn if you qualify for financial assistance with swim lessons, please contact Karla Toye at 513 932 1424 152 or email

To register for swim lessons, click HERE. For more information about eligibility for free swim lessons, click HERE

About Countryside YMCA 

Since 1978, Countryside YMCA has embodied the Christian principles that welcome everyone in an environment where people of all ages can achieve a balance of spirit, mind and body. Located on a beautiful 126-acre property, Countryside YMCA is one of the world’s largest YMCAs offering eight pools, five gymnasiums, two indoor tracks, a rock climbing wall, a 13,000 square ft. cardio/ weight room, the Arts Center, Stolle Center for active seniors, the Motion Zone for active youth, a wide range of exercise, sports, and creative expression classes, disc golf, summer day camp for kids, and scenic trails. To learn more, please visit