In an effort to reduce the high incidence of drowning among young children in the city, a series of free swimming lessons kicked off for thousands of second graders across on Tuesday.
More than 3,500 kids splashed into the water for their first day of Swim For Life, a series of free, 10-week sessions.
Swim for Life, which first launched in January 2011, has reached more than 27,500 students in public elementary schools across the city.
Accidental drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among kids under the age of 14, with drowning incidences disproportionately impacting minority children, according to the Parks Department.
The sessions run from October to June in all five boroughs. Students participate in one hour of swim instruction per week as part of their school day. Students learn basic swim strokes as well as pool safety rules. At the end of the program, students are evaluated to make sure that they have successfully learned basic skills.
Swim for Life is funded by public and private monies, according to the Parks Department. More is needed, however, in order to meet the long-term goal of reaching all 70,000 second-grade students in public schools.