Aquababies Learn to Swim at the New Settlement Community Center

Credit: SusieQ Wong-Benjamin (@SusieQFitLife)

Credit: SusieQ Wong (@SusieQFitLife)

By SusieQ Wong


“Swimming is awesome!” Swimming is fun.


Children, as young as 6 months old, are learning how to swim in the aquatics program at the New Settlement Community Center (NSCC) located on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.


NSCC’s founding Aquatics Director, Fran Clifford says, “It’s important for everyone especially our young children.  You want to make sure your children are safe in and around water including the bathtub.  They learn how to maneuver in the water, they learn how to take a breath before they go under.  It’s very important  that water adjustment and how to feel good and comfortable in the water.  From there they can go on and learn how to swim.”

It’s important for everyone, especially young children, to learn how to be safe in and around water, including the bathtub.

  • Drownings mostly occur in bathtubs and home swimming pools among children ages 1 to 4.



Babies learning how to swim is an essential way of preventing accidental drownings and instilling confidence over fear in the water.


You may be surprised with the number of babies learning how to swim as young as 6 months old in the Aquababies program. Many proud parents participate in the pool supporting and guiding their baby on how to float while instructors teach them how to swim.

Former AquaBabies instructor and lifeguard, Abel Rodriguez says, “This is a great way to get the kids involved at an early age.  We do a lot of kicking and swimming.  We have them start early so they can be comfortable in the water and it creates great muscle memory.”


Abel says that all the lifeguards are teenager, 18-19 years old. Learning water movements and learning how to submerge your face in water as a young child is a priceless lesson becomes a life-saving skill.


Helen Dos Santos, an Aqua Tots mom says, “My son is in the swimming program Aqua Tots.  He’s been in for a couple of sessions. We love to see his progress.  He started out crying and hugging onto his Daddy the whole time to feeling comfortable in the water and loving to swim.”


Carolina Cerda and her family are NSCC members. Ms. Cerda says, “The kids were doing group lessons and they enjoyed it and loved it.  We started with the semi-private, so now it is just the two of them with an instructor.” She likes New Settlement because it very convenient because it’s in the neighborhood.  And it’s cheap compared to other swim programs she has visited.


Mrs. Cerda said that the instructors are young and her kids love them. She spoke of her son, Sebastian, who was at first afraid of the water.  “My son has had trouble jumping in the pool and now in the last few lessons he has jumped in all by himself.  He loves jumping in!” Sebastian’s sister added enthusiastically, “we jump in the pool like the cannon ball.”


Minority groups have a higher drowning rate according to the Centers for Disease Control.

  • Black children ages 5 to 19 drown at 5.5 times the rate of white children.
  • Fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death among children, ages 1 to 14.
  • Drowning can happen quickly and quietly.


New Settlement Community Center Pool


For more information about the swimming programs at the New Settlement Community Center, contact the new Aquatics Director, Yelitza Valle at 1501 Jerome Avenue, Bronx NY 10452 or call 718-758-5901.


Maxwell, a baby featured in the accompanying video, began taking classes in the “Aquababies” program when he was 8 months old.  He is now graduating to the Aqua Tots program for babies 18-36 months.  Participating in these classes has sparked Maxwell’s enjoyment of bath time and extended playtime in the tub (under close, undistracted parental supervision).


Photo credit: The Bronx Chronicle

Photo credit: The Bronx Chronicle

Be the inspiration that your young child needs to see.  Teach your child to be healthy at an early age by encouraging your baby or child to swim with lessons right in your community.


Note: The Bronx Chronicle is a supporter of Borough President Ruben Diaz’s #Not62 campaign to improve the health indices of Bronx residents.


SusieQ Wong is “Your ARMED Celebrity Fitness Trainer,”  fitness clothing designer, motivational speaker, writer, and Bronx Chronicle fitness contributor. Follow on Twitter @SusieQFitLife, on Instagram@susieqfitlife and Facebook SusieQFitLife 

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