It's never too late to learn to swim

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More than a third of American adults can't swim the length of a 25-yard pool, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you're among the 37 percent of adults who can't, you're at greater risk for becoming one of the nearly 10 people who drown each day, on average. Inability to swim is the No. 1 "risk factor" for drowning, the CDC says.

Nearly 80 percent of drowning victims are male; 70 percent are adults. Black children are three times more likely to be drowning victims than are white children.

The good news is if you don't know how to swim, it isn't too late to learn -- no matter how old you are, says the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, the charitable arm of U.S. Masters Swimming.

A great place to learn is at your local YMCA. The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh offers eight different classes for children, adults, and for a parent and child age 6 months to 36 months together. For a description of the classes and schedules, click here.

Pittsburgh Citiparks offers an adult learn-to-swim program and a number of swimming lessons for children. For details and schedules, contact the CitiParks Aquatics office at 412-323-7928.

The Allegheny County Parks Department offers a free learn-to-swim program for age 5 and up at four locations in July. Classes meet for 45 minutes once a week for four weeks. No pre-registration is required. For more information, click here.

U.S. Masters Swimming courses are offered at eight locations in the area. For details, click here.

Yellowbook lists 486 local health clubs, swim clubs and community associations where swimming instruction is offered.

If you are one of the 46 percent of American adults who are afraid to go into water over your head, the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation recommends Miracle Swimming, a course designed to overcome fear.

"It is ideal for anyone who has found that traditional swimming lessons don't solve the problem of overcoming fear of deep water," the foundation says.

Miracle Swimming's ratio of instructors to students is smaller than typical swimming classes. The Miracle Swimming course, which costs $1,145-$1,545, depending on location, comes with a money-back guarantee of success.

Typically taught in three eight-hour sessions, Miracle Swimming is offered at various locations throughout the country. Closest to Pittsburgh this year are Allentown, Lehigh County, and Columbus, Ohio. For more information, click here.

The Yellow Pages list nine area locations where private swim lessons are offered.


Jack Kelly: jkelly@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1476.

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