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      YMCA will provide free swimming lessons this weekend to more than 200 Birmingham kids

      The YMCA of Greater Birmingham is teaching young people water safety and how to swim, through a free initiative at its Youth Center in the Park Place neighborhood downtown.Friday, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, from 9 a.m. Until 2 p.m., trained swimming professionals and volunteers will teach kids ages 3 to 14, how to be self-confident in the water, and how to save lives.Last year, more than 200 YMCA campers from the Roebuck, Center Point and Ensley communities were taught water safety in a group setting. Thanks to fund-raising efforts of the YMCA Junior Board and grants from American Red Cross, these lessons are free this year.The "Learn to Swim" week begins with child assessment skills, then grouping by age and ability. All participants benefit by either learning new skill sets, or enhancing their current abilities. Depending on the "fear factor" a child brings into swim lessons, he or she will progress at different intervals. All of the children however will learn to be safer in and around the water.