swim to work

The YMCA of Central Virginia and Iron Lives have joined forces to launch "Swim to Work," a six-week work readiness and training program that aims to take high school students through the process of becoming certified lifeguards. The YMCA will absorb all the required certification and training costs creating an equitable pathway to gainful employment for the students. 

After the hands-on six-week training course, participants will complete the lifeguard certification process. Course training materials include CPR, First Aid, AED, and water safety. Additionally, students will gain valuable life skills while being mentored by a certified lifeguard and experienced trainer. After the students complete the process, they will be ready to apply for a job as a lifeguard. 

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Theo Coates, Swim School Coordinator and Swim to Work Program Director, stresses the importance of equitable employment opportunities and water safety, two things about which he is vehemently passionate. "As someone whose mother was a lifeguard, it was essential for me to learn to swim at an early age. In addition to my mother's guidance, I took swim lessons at the YMCA of Central Virginia as a summer camp kid. It is a full circle moment to be certified as a Lifeguard, Swim Instructor, and Aquatic Fitness Instructor, now teaching children and adults of all ages to love aquatic activities. I am pleased to introduce a program that aligns closely with my experience. For some, this will be an opportunity to explore a world of possibilities they may not have imagined. For all, it will be an opportunity to grow as a swimmer, an employee, and above all, a leader."

In addition to this program being "no-cost" for participants and their families, the Y offers transportation to and from the program, which will take place at the Jamerson Family YMCA or the Downtown YMCA. Participants will also receive a free YMCA membership as part of the benefits.

"IRON Lives is committed to helping youth become life-ready. Swim to Work is an opportunity to explore swimming as fitness for life and an avenue to employment." Allison Jordan, Executive Director at Iron Lives, believes this program will be life-changing for those participating. "This opportunity is much deeper than what it appears on the surface. Swim to Work provides free access to the Y, which houses a fitness facility, child care center, and sports and recreation centers. This type of exposure allows students to see different employment roles within the YMCA while participating in the program and provides an avenue for multiple organizations; to impact our community collectively."


Kathy Thomas, Executive Branch Director for the Downtown YMCA says that "Swim to Work" is one of the many strategic efforts by the Y and their "Partners with a Purpose" to create a better community for us all. The YMCA's newest initiative BYMOC, mentors boys and young men of color. "Swim to Work is one of the programs that will be offered to BYMOC participants at no cost, along with several other opportunities for growth in our newly reimagined teen center coming this fall. The teen center will be open to all, and serve students 13-17 years of age." 

Swim to Work is available to students at EC Glass High School, Heritage High School, Brookville High School, and Jefferson Forest High School. Students are encouraged to visit the Future Center at their school or contact their School Counselor to receive more information regarding registration and program dates.

Additional inquiries can be made by contacting Theo Coatestheocoates@ymcacva.org or, Allison Jordanallison@ironlives.com

The YMCA of Central Virginia is a charitable nonprofit organization committed to strengthening the community by creating equitable access to life strengthening tools and resources. The YMCA's mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. www.ymcacva.org 

IRON Lives Vision: Our vision is for Central Virginia to be a positive community with a skilled workforce full of engaged citizens and thriving families. 

IRON Lives Mission: Our mission is to be a bridge between students and the community by providing positive youth development, committed mentoring, and character-centered athletics.