SIDNEY — Around 200 children took part in the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA’ s 36th annual water safety program this week, where they learned valuable life-saving skills in the water.

The program, which was formerly known as “Splash,” was presented free of charge to all area children, regardless of YMCA membership, and was sponsored by the Sidney Daily News, in cooperation with Minster Bank and Ruese Insurance.

The theme for this year’s event was “We don’t talk about Bruno … We talk about WATER SAFETY!”

The YMCA aquatics staff’s goal was to teaching children the rescue technique “reach, or throw, don’t go,” which means to not jump into the water to help someone in trouble, but instead reach or throw something to them to help. They also aimed for attendees to learn to float in the “starfish” pose, which is a safe resting position in the water. They hope each child left with the life-saving technique.

YMCA Aquatics Director Michelle Spalding said, despite some Monday evening classes having to be out of the water due to severe thunderstorms, as the indoor pool is directly under skylight windows, the week went well.

“The kids had a lot of fun. This week went really well, and many of the kids got to review what they learned in the past,” Spalding said on Thursday.

She and YMCA lifeguard Sonia Jaziri agreed there were several new faces who attended this year along with kids who returned from past years.

“A lot of new faces,” Jaziri said, “but also some repeats. Many of the children have aged out and out grown the program.”

The Sidney Fire Department was also on hand Wednesday afternoon to talk with participants about being safe around high, river or flood waters. Fire Lt. Jeff Simon talked to the children about the dangers of playing in or near river water. Dalton Davis, 14, of Sidney, son of Dallas and Bridget Davis, demonstrated for the children the information Simon was explaining about how to float to the bank if you were to fall out of your boat, canoe or kayak and get safely to the bank.

Volunteer Brenna Davis, 9, of Sidney, son of Dallas and Bridget Davis, helped with the program for the second year in a row after years of being a participant.

“I think it went well,” Brenna said with a tired smile on her face at the end of her classes. “I enjoyed helping out.”

Kaitlin Green, of Sidney, and her husband Bradley Green’s three children, Henry, 7, Emmilyn, 4, and Charlotte, 3, participated all week.

“They all love it,” Kaitlin said. “They did it last year so they were excited about (participating). And Charlotte was excited she gets to do it this year too (for the first time).”

Courtney Morrow, the Sidney mother of two young participants, Arizona, 7, and Tinleigh, 3, said both of her children participated in the program for the first time and loved coming each day.

“They loved it. They’ve had a lot of fun. They just love the water,” Morrow said. “Arizona has taken swim lessons, so this is like a refresher. Tinleigh, she need to learn water safety and not to get in the water by herself.”

Children ages 3 to 5 had to be accompanied by a parent in the water for instruction. Morrow got in the pool with Tinleigh for her classes.

At the beginning of each class, the children sat on a bench and watched a very short video containing important safety information. At the close of each video, they were encouraged to sign up for swim lessons. The YMCA offers private, one-on-one; semi-private, of two or more; and group swim lessons.

The program originally began as the need arose to teach basic safety skills after a child drowned over 30 years ago. For information about swim lessons at the YMCA and financial assistance, call 937-492-9134.

Sidney firefighter Lt. Jeff Simon, of Russia, gives a talk on water safety to a group taking part in the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA’s free 36th annual water safety program on Wednesday, June 8. firefighter Lt. Jeff Simon, of Russia, gives a talk on water safety to a group taking part in the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA’s free 36th annual water safety program on Wednesday, June 8. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

By Sheryl Roadcap

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