Free swim lessons

Published on: May 9, 2018

YMCAs offer free swim lessons to summer campers


Summer campers at YMCA branches throughout Hillsborough County can receive free swim lessons if they are unable to pass the camp swim test. The program started in 2014, and last year, 1,465 campers received water safety and swim lessons through the Y’s Go for Green program. Photos from Tampa Metropolitan YMCA

With summer nearly here, many parents are ready to get their kids in the water to learn some safety techniques that could save their lives in a state ranked number one for drownings.

There are loads of options, among them, local YMCA branches and a retired Red Cross swim instructor in Eastern Hillsborough County who now teaches kids how to save themselves and at the same time, actually learn to swim.

For kids attending Y summer camp this year, free swimming lessons are available for those unable to pass the swimming test. Meals are also free during the summer as part of a county program.

“Summer camp is an excellent way to ensure kids stay engaged, socially, physically and academically throughout the summer,” said Director of Camping Services Mark Battig. “In Y summer camp, kids are in a welcoming environment where they can belong, they’re building relationships, developing character and discovering their potential. We really encourage parents to give the gift of camp to keep them active and engaged all summer long.”

Since summer and swimming are synonymous, the Y’s Go for Green program provides free swim lessons to kids who can’t pass the swim test. They receive lessons all summer until they can pass the test and earn their green bracelet.

Food during camp is provided through the Summer Food Program from May 29 to Aug. 3 and is open to all kids to age 18.

Additionally, Irving Kadet, a retired Red Cross instructor, is offering lessons to kids in southeastern Hillsborough County throughout the summer.

An instructor since 1966 who is now retired, Kadet uses some of his time to teach youngsters how to save themselves and then some. One-on-one lessons are $40 per session.

He moved to Florida from New York only to discover that a couple of children in his own neighborhood had drowned in ponds, he said.

Kadet began teaching his neighbor’s children how to swim and continued to get requests. “This is not my livelihood or my business,” he said. “This is my passion.

“I teach the kids in a game situation,” he explained. It’s never swimming class or lessons, it’s playing in the water with Mr. Irving. It has to be fun and positive reinforcement.”

Kadet teaches a basic face-down float. “With little boys, I say let’s play Superman. We role play. I am a bad man and the good man has to catch me. It teaches kicking and hand technique. The little ones don’t even realize they are learning to swim. They think they are just playing.”

He then asks them how they got from one side of the pool to the other to “catch” him and it is then that they realize they swam, he said. “It’s laying positive reinforcement.

“The older ones, you ain’t foolin’, but it’s never intimidating. I also teach children in case of emergency and how not to be around any body of water without an adult, and how to get back to the shore or out of a pool safely.”

Generally, Kadet said, it takes four or five one-on-one lessons before a child will become proficient at how to save themselves and generally, how to swim. He does offer more advanced swimming classes, as well.

There are also various other opportunities available throughout the area for children or adult swim lessons.

To contact Kadet, call 813-373-5870.

For information on summer camp and swim lessons at any Tampa Metropolitan YMCA, visit