Bobcats dive into Marshalltown YMCA’s Water Safety course

By Sarah Johnston, Communications Dept. Intern

PHOTO BY SARAH JOHNSTON: A middle school Bobcat participates in the YMCA water safety course.

During the month of October, 8th grade Bobcats get to spend their P.E. period at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA learning vital life-saving skills in the water. Over multiple sessions, students learn about water safety and what to do in an emergency. 

This week, the students were separated into groups and rotated between various stations, including a life jacket lesson, a “Submerge and Retrieve” activity, and a “Reach & Throw, Don’t Go” exercise. Later, the students advanced to activities like “Jump-Push-Turn-Grab,” “Swim-Float-Swim,” and treading water. 

During the life jackets lesson, some of the swimming techniques included safely jumping into the water, a comfortable backstroke, and how to react as soon as a person hits the water. 

PHOTO BY SARAH JOHNSTON: Bobcats practicing with life jackets.

“Use the back like a pillow and let your toes float up to the surface,” one Y aquatic instructor recommended during the activity.

At the “Submerge and Retrieve” station, students learned how to be comfortable underwater by blowing mouth bubbles while submerged. Once the students were comfortable underwater, the instructor handed out colorful diving rings for the students to retrieve. The activity quickly turned into a fun racing game, and it became clear that Bobcats love to swim.

During “Reach Out and Throw, Don’t Go,” students were taught what to do if they see a person drowning or struggling to swim in deep water. They learned to always tell an adult right away, and the instructor stressed the importance of not jumping into the water after another person.

Instead, the students were taught to lay flat on their bellies and reach out with whatever they had on hand. In the demonstration, they used pool noodles and the lifeguard ring. 

PHOTO BY SARAH JOHNSTON: YMCA Aquatic instructor teaching young Bobcats how to effectively tread water.

At the “Jump-Push-Turn-Grab” station, the students learned what to do if they were to accidentally fall into the water. They started by jumping into the water, then pushing off of the bottom of the pool, turning toward the edge, and grabbing the edge to get out.

During the “Swim-Float-Swim” and treading water lessons, students were taught what to do if they have to swim for a long period of time and how to conserve energy and strength in those scenarios.

This program was created after a tragedy in the Iowa River in 2012, when three children drowned. After the tragedy, the community came together and decided to implement a program to teach young Bobcats about water safety.

Thank you to the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA Aquatics team for all of your hard work to educate Bobcat students about water safety!