INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Here’s something you probably don’t often hear in the middle of January: Let’s go swimming!
But that’s exactly what we’re doing today because Aqua-Tots Swim School located on the north side at 4825 E. 96th Street is making it their 2020 mission to save lives right here in our community.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidental drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. However, consistent formal swim lessons can reduce that risk by 88%.
Pack your swimsuit—but don’t forget your winter coat—for this trip “In Your Neighborhood”.
Some may argue that January seems like an odd time to talk about swimming. But Aqua-Tots owner and Master Water Safety Instructor, Lindsay Thayer, disagrees.
“Water is everywhere. There is no season when it comes to water,” she said. “It’s always the swim season we like to say here because it’s important that year-round you’re keeping those skills top of mind.”
That’s why she’s decided to give back to her community and go all-in on their #LearnToSwim2020 campaign.
“We realize that not every child has the opportunity to participate in formal swim lessons,” she explained. “So we would like to give 20 children this year the opportunity to have free swim lessons every single week for the entire year…That program is valued at $1,000 per child.”
But for swim parents like Tara Sims, the real value goes far beyond dollars.
“It really has built his strength and his confidence. And I feel he has a healthy boundary with water too,” Sims said.
If you ask her son, 2-year-old Will, it’s just fun!
“I like it a lot!” he exclaimed.
However, Sims admits she felt nervous when she first enrolled Will in swim school at Aqua-Tots when he was 13 months old.
Admittedly, it was an adjustment process for both she and her son, who was a bit more fearful of the water in the beginning. However, she credits the highly-trained coaches and staff for putting both of their fears at ease.
“They never push you too hard if there’s something you’re not comfortable with doing, they’re not going to push you,” said Sims. “If your child seems fearful, there are many modifications they can do to ease them into loving the water, going under the water and things like that so it’s really not scary at all.”
Now, Will is a “Level 2 Minnow” and confidently approaches his lessons.
“There’s a part in the lesson where you play with a rubber ring and you put it on the top step and all the down to the bottom of the pool and he had to work up [to that] because he has to go completely underwater and now that’s all he wants to do,” Sims said. “He wants to go to the bottom of the pool right off the bat and skip the first step, so I can see how that has really built his confidence.”
Parents can keep track of their child’s progress thanks to “Aqua-Cards”, which are essentially daily evaluations/progress reports from the instructors.
As parents themselves, Lindsay Thayer and her husband Jake, knew they wanted to open a business together that would be bigger than themselves.
“Our first daughter was one year old when we started going down the Aqua-Tots path and it made sense for us because it was a business we could raise our family around and was really going to have an impact on our surroundings and something we could do and give back to the community,” she said.
Aqua-Tots offers lessons for kids as young as 4-months-old because they believe it’s important to lay the groundwork early when it comes to developing a healthy respect for the water as well as boundaries around it.
“They’re going to learn how to respect [the water], how to listen to mom and dad, grandpa and grandma—whoever is in the pool with them,” Thayer explained. “They’re going to learn how to listen to them and know how to sit on the side until they are given permission to come in.”
This type of boundary-setting is vital— especially when it comes to residential pools.
“Most drownings occur in a home. They occur in a backyard swimming pool…when an adult thinks another adult is watching that child so you never know when an incident could occur,” she said.
“As we get close to Spring Break [and] closer to summer, now’s the time to really get them in the water and get that confidence and skills that they need and be able to save themselves if they found themselves in a horrible situation in water.”
That’s why Thayer’s set a goal in 2020 to help save lives by providing an opportunity through Aqua-Tots for children to learn to swim by removing barriers that might limit some families when it comes to putting their child in swim lessons.
Now, thanks to that commitment, 20 local children will get that opportunity.
“This is a way for us to be able to give back and also to just raise awareness about the importance of water safety and being in swim lessons,” said Thayer.
If you would like to nominate a child to receive free swim lessons for the rest of the year, they are accepting nominations through this Friday, January 31st. You can find the link by clicking here or through their Facebook and Instagram pages.
Four Things You Need to Know About Aqua-Tots:
- Lindsay Thayer and her husband, Jake, opened Aqua-Tots Swim School (located at 4825 E. 96th St., Indianapolis, IN 46240) in 2017.Aqua-Tots offers swim classes for children ages 4 months-12 years. You can choose from a variety of class options from private lessons, semi-private lessons and group classes (which have a ratio of 4 children to one instructor). You can also book birthday parties and special events here!
- It may seem a bit early in the year to already be talking about swimming, but Aqua-Tots owner Lindsay Thayer says this is a great time of year to start, especially with Spring Break right around the corner. “We teach year-round swim lessons because it’s important to keep those skills current through the entirety of the year…right now is the time to really get them in the water and get that confidence and skills that they need and be able to save themselves if they found themselves in a horrible situation in water,” she said.
- To honor their commitment to their #LearnToSwim2020 initiative, Aqua-Tots is going to give free swim lessons for all of 2020 to 20 deserving children. Each child will be enrolled in one lesson per week through the duration of the year, which is valued at $1,000 per child. You can nominate a deserving child in your life by clicking here. Nominations will be accepted through January 31, 2020.
- For anyone who does not win—or is simply interested in enrolling in swim lessons in general— you can do a free in-water evaluation at Aqua-Tots. “That means you can come, you can try out our program and make sure it’s a good fit for you and your family and it allows us to evaluate your child and see where their skills are in the water and the right level to place them in here in our program,” explained Thayer.
While on E. 96th street, check out these other top-rated hot-spots located nearby: