Kids enjoy their Evanston Swims! session on Nov. 7 at the YWCA. Photo from YWCA Evanston/North Shore

Evanston Swims!, a community collaboration that teaches water safety and swim instruction to Evanston second graders at no cost to their families, recently launched its sixth official season. Approximately 230 children have registered.

“It is gratifying to watch this program continue to fulfill its mission, which is to give Evanston schoolchildren access to swimming lessons and water safety instruction,” said Mary Miller, who coordinates the program as a staffer at YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “By the end of this school year, the program will have reached more than 2,000 youngsters since its inception.”

Through Evanston Swims!, second graders in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 have access to swimming lessons on half days of school throughout the year.

They either bring a sack lunch or receive a lunch at school and then board a bus to their swimming sites, which include YWCA Evanston/North Shore, McGaw YMCA, Presbyterian Homes and Goldfish Swim School.

“If they don’t have swim gear, like a swimsuit or goggles, we provide that,” said Ms. Miller. “We make sure there are no barriers to our kids getting in the water.”

Community support and involvement also have contributed to the program’s success.

Evanston Swims! is a partnership between YWCA Evanston/North Shore, McGaw YMCA, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. It also includes Three Crowns Park, Presbyterian Homes, and Goldfish Swim School“Goldfish Swim School is a new partner this year and we’re so pleased they’re part of Evanston Swims!,” said Ms. Miller.

But community support does not end there. The annual Great Lake Plunge open-water swim raises funds for the program. And chaperones and instructors come from all corners of Evanston and include parents, Masters swimmers, District 65 middle-schoolers and others who want to be involved.

The next session of Evanston Swims! is Dec. Ms. Miller says the organization currently is looking for more chaperones, particularly male chaperones.

Anyone wishing to learn more about Evanston Swims!, to volunteer or to make a donation may visit or email