Although it’s the dead of winter, the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary recently led Evanston second graders through lessons in outdoor water safety.
“The Coast Guard Auxiliary focuses on educating people about water safety, and today, this is about winter water safety,” said Kim Saccaro, with the Coast Guard Auxiliary based in Wilmette, at an Evanston Swims! session on February 5 at YWCA Evanston/North Shore.
Evanston Swims! is a community collaboration that provides free water safety instruction and swimming lessons to second graders in Evanston/Skokie School District 65.
Saccaro explained to the rapt second graders that lakes and rivers freeze in the winter and often look like they’re solid when they’re not. After cautioning the students about staying away from anything that looks like a frozen body of water, she then explained what to do if you fall through the ice.
She and her colleague, Bill Luksha, also demonstrated the dangers of hypothermia by having the children submerge their hands in a large cooler of ice water. As groans and yowls filled the room, it was clear they got the point.
“We have many swimming pools that are partners with Evanston Swims!,” said Jody Koizumi, who coordinates Evanston Swims! through YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “But the Coast Guard provides a different perspective on the water safety education because they secure the safety of the Great Lakes – and we are a lakeside community.”
She added, “It’s great to have a partner in the Evanston Swims! program that is so deeply connected to the Great Lakes.”
Evanston Swims! is a partnership between YWCA Evanston/North Shore, McGaw YMCA, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, along with Westminster Place, Three Crowns, and Goldfish Swim School.
Support also comes from the annual Great Lake Plunge open-water swim, which raises funds for the program, and from chaperones and instructors, including parents, Masters swimmers, District 65 middle schoolers, and a host of others.
The next session of Evanston Swims! is March 16.