Page Summary

  • The YMCA's Safety Around Water (SAW) Program teaches kids how to have fun in and around water.
  • The YMCA's SAW program teaches kids basic swimming and water safety skills.
  • The SAW program includes kids of all ages and backgrounds at little or no cost.
  • The YMCA partnered with CDC to evaluate the SAW Program, collecting information on participants' swimming and water safety skills before and after the program.
Young girl in swim lesson on pool edge


About The YMCA

The YMCA—known as the Y—provides programs that teach people how to be safe in and around water. Each year, they teach over a million children important water safety and swimming skills.

One example is their Safety Around Water (SAW) program. It is made up of eight lessons for children and is designed to:

  • Teach swimming and water safety skills with the goal of reducing the risk of drowning, and
  • Build ability and confidence in and around water.

Working with CDC

Beginning in 2021, CDC supported the Y to evaluate the SAW program. Through this partnership, the Y:

  • Conducted an evaluation of the SAW program in 15 locations across the U.S. over two years.
  • Provided swimming lessons to 1,500 children.
  • Built a data collection system to help track participants' swimming and water safety skills before and after the program.
  • Worked with NORC at the University of Chicago to develop a way to measure participant's water safety knowledge.

In 2023, CDC supported the Y to provide grants to 21 community-based organizations to deliver the SAW Program. The grants reach children in communities who would not otherwise have access to swimming lessons. The Y is now evaluating this model to see if it increases access and availability to swim skills training. In 2023, CDC further supported this work by providing grants to 9 Ys to adapt and evaluate the SAW Program for children with autism spectrum disorder.

The Y will use the information from these evaluations to refine the current SAW program model, tools, and resources. They plan to build more programs in communities across the country. This will give more children the chance to develop lifelong swim and water safety skills and help them stay safe while having fun.

Explore the Y's resources

The Y provides free online resources to help everyone learn about water safety. These resources include:

  • Tips for parents and caregivers
  • Articles from experts
  • Infographics to help educate people about water safety

Discover more about Water Safety and Swimming and Find your Y today.