Tempe YMCA: Keeping kids safe around water

Tempe Firefighter Brad Whitley, Tempe YMCA swim advocate Dave Munsey (center) and Olympic gold medalist and YMCA Coach Darlan Townsend (center, back) with YMCA swim meet participants. (Photo courtesy Tempe Family YMCA)

If you’ve ever watched a newscast in the Valley, you’ve heard the voice of Dave Munsey and his nightly sign-off, “Watch your kids around water.” With nearly a half-century of hearing Munsey’s mantra alerting Valley residents to sun, rain, wind, dust storms and flash floods, his voice will echo a similar message but now it’ll carry into Tempe and across Arizona.

Dubbed by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton “the most trusted name and face and voice in local news” (he boasts the longest stretch at one channel for any Valley TV news personality), Munsey joins the Tempe branch of the Y, along with other Y’s around the state, in promoting the cause of water safety.

Munsey, who has been dubbed “the father of water safety in the state of Arizona,” will volunteer and serve as an advocate for the YMCA’s recent launch of its new swim lessons program.

“The YMCA is one of the country’s longest-standing nonprofits dedicated to the nation’s most pressing social issues related to youth, health and community life,” said Munsey, a 2016 Arizona Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductee.

“Together, we’re dedicated to reversing the alarming statistics about our state’s youth drowning rates. With Arizona having twice as many children drown compared to the national average, I’m partnering with Valley of the Sun YMCA and will be tweaking my mantra to promote another layer of protection, ‘Teach Your Kids to Swim.’”

In May, the Y launched Safety Around Water, a program that teaches parents, caregivers and children about the importance of water safety skills and providing Arizonans access to water safety lessons.

The program, which includes a new national swim-lesson curriculum, aims to impact 35,000 individuals this year. Armed with these skills, children will know how to reach the water’s surface if they become submerged, safely reach a pool’s edge, exit any body of water and respond to unexpected water situations.

“One of the most recognized voices for water safety has joined forces with America’s Swim Instructor, the YMCA,” said Todd Heinecke, vice president of Operations for Valley of the Sun YMCA.

“To have a Valley meteorologist legend continue the stewardship of his water safety campaign, be our advocate and have Arizonans learn swimming as a survival skill, is a perfect fit.”

Munsey, a longtime Phoenix weather anchor and TV personality who retired in June from KSAZ FOX Channel 10 after 42 years there, made it his mission to promote water safety after a friend of his lost a child in a drowning accident at a lake in Minnesota. His long-running slogan began in 1980.

“Teaching children how to swim and be safe in and around water is one of the most important life skills parents can help their children learn,” said Jackie Morgan, executive director of Leadership and Risk Management for the Valley of the Sun YMCA.

Information about services provided at the Tempe is available by calling 480-730-0240.

—Tobin Ernst



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