Take a dip with Santa at the Hagerstown YMCA
Sometimes Kris Kringle needs to kick back, put on his swimming trunks, and take a dip.
Swim With Santa, an event where children get to meet, eat breakfast and swim with Santa Claus, will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 22.
Before Father Christmas delivers toys to all children who have been good, he likes to relax in the pool.
“It’s an event for children where they get an opportunity to meet Santa,” said Maria Ruebling, CEO of Hagerstown YMCA. “Santa will be there to meet with the kids before and while they’re swimming. They’ll have breakfast and crafts they can do with the Santa, and then they can go swimming. They have some time in between to change before they can swim with Santa.”
Swim With Santa is a popular event at the YMCA.
“This is our second year we’ve done it,” Ruebling said. “Last year we didn’t know what to expect, we had a lot of people. We moved the land part to a bigger space in the Y, so people could have more room. You hate for people to feel crowded.”
Everyone, not just members of YMCA, can swim with Santa. Cost is $5 per child and $3 per parent. Swimming is encouraged but not required.
“We want to make sure that the Y is an important social organization in Hagerstown,” Ruebling said. “It’s open to everybody, not just members. We keep the price low so it makes it attainable for everyone to participate. It’s not a money-making event per se, it’s a fellowship for the community and to see what other families are in the community too.”
Ruebling suggested people register in advance for the event.
“Popular events fill up. We had 70 people last year,” she said.
Learning how to swim is critical for the safety of a child.
“The kids at the public school would take swimming lessons at the Y,” Ruebling said. “Some of those extracurricular things aren’t included anymore. Swimming is something important that could save your life. Think about how much of the world is covered in water, and how many times you’ll be around water.
Swimming lessons are all about learning how to be safe around the water. If they don’t learn how to swim at a certain time it’s important. If you talk to adults who never learned how to swim, they’re terrified of the water. They’ll go to the beach and they don’t go further than the hot sand. It’s so important for kids because they see it and want to get in it, and won’t think about it.”
Ruebling taught swimming lessons long before becoming CEO of the Hagerstown YMCA.
“At my age of over 50 plus, I still keep my lifeguarding certification current. I’ve been a lifeguard since I was 17,” she said. “This program will have the kids see Santa, and they’ll be interested in swimming. This is a fun way for kids to learn how to swim. Even Santa wants you to learn how to swim.”
Ruebling believes the Swim with Santa is an out-of-the-ordinary event.
“There’s certainly not many indoor pools in the county,” she said. “The fact that they can come to the pool in this season, and that it’s Christmas time and they can swim with Santa, I think it’s unique in that way.”
Top photo: Santa Claus plays with children in the pool during last year’s YMCA Hagerstown. (Herald-Mail file photo)