Turtle Bay first graders get ready for the water


REDDING, Calif. - The YMCA and the Redding School District have been teaming up for the past 14 years offering first graders in the district free swimming classes. The YMCA said the collaboration following a tragic accident .

"The year 2000, a six year old drowned in the water, his parents who could not swim watched the drowning from the shore," said YMCA CEO Al Boren.

According to Boren they have been helping students ever since.

Turtle Bay first grade student, Pauley Cottrell said he has learned a lot.

"You get to swim and you don't drown," said Cottrell.

The students get to attend the YMCA for two weeks, three days a week. There they learn the basics of swimming.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. And drowning is the second cause of death in that group.

"Our region with lakes and streams and backyard pools its very important that kids learn to swim," Boren said.

Parents said these classes bring them peace of mind.

Ashley Cottrell said she has seen a big difference in her son.

"I think it's awesome that they start out early in first grade teaching them swim lessons that way when we do go to the lake they'll know the safety precautions of swimming, " said Ashley Cottrell.

The program costs about $15,000 a year and it's funded by local groups and events which includes Kool April Nights, the McConnel Foundation and the Redding Rancheria.