For years the East Boston YMCA was the only Greater Boston YMCA site without a pool. That all changed last year when the East Boston Y joined forces with the Mario Umana Academy to bring the Umana’s underutilized pool back to its original glory and give the East Boston Y a pool they could use.
The partnership now has the Y staff doing the programming at the pool for the community at large while the Umana students benefit from the reopened pool.
At the pool this summer, the Y has run a widely successful Safety Around Water Program (SAW) where roughly 100 children learned how to swim so far this season.
There’s an old saying that kids who know how to swim and are taught safety around water are kids that don’t drown.
“Since we opened the pool last year we have had 500 kids in our lessons learning to swim,” said East Boston Y Executive Director Joe Gaeta. “We have also had a great turn out among adults with over 50 adults learning to swim. This summer we have offered 15 SAW classes and 50 age-based swim lesson classes.”
Gaeta said the SAW program has more than exceeded the Y’s expectations.
“We knew there was a need, but saw the benefits when the community turned out for our annual breakfast in April and supported us via sponsoring SAW programs,” said Gaeta. “We don’t turn anyone away due to inability to pay, we use scholarship funds that are raised. The partnership with City of Boston, BCYF and The Umana Academy has expanded the ability for kids in our community to learn the lifesaving skill of swimming.”
Gaeta said YMCA swim lessons are the gold standard and that kids who learn to swim at the Y learn to swim for life.
“The East Boston Y is thrilled with the community response to usage of the pool at the Umana,” he said. “Safe kids start here, the ability to swim is a lifelong skill, it’s like riding a bike, it’s a forever skill that can save their lives. Our city is almost 90 percent shoreline, the ability to swim is not a luxury, it is a necessity for the kids in our community. Lack of ability to pay should never be the reason, we will never turn anyone away due to inability to pay. It is thanks to our community partners and generous donors who show up for East Boston and make sure we can offer these programs.”
Summer swim sessions signups are over but the Y is gearing up for Fall Session, Sept. 3.
“Everyone can come sign up starting this week for all-age swim lessons,” said Gaeta. “Parent child and adult lessons are offered.”
You can check out the Y’s website at www.ymcabsoton.org/eastboston for more information.