Swim Testing and Wristband System at the YMCA of Greater Hartford

The model, called TEST. MARK. PROTECT., incorporates a swim test and new wristband-marking system, and will be used at all YMCA of Greater Hartford swimming pools.

Why are we doing this?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 3 kids die each day from drowning, and children of color are up to three times as likely to drown as their white peers. Shockingly, a report from Safe Kids Worldwide found that 88% of kids who die from drowning do so under adult supervision, and 60% are only 10 feet away from safety.

At the Y, we strive to teach safety around water to all children through swimming lessons and safe practices. That is why we have implemented colored zones in our pools, and corresponding wristbands based on a child's ability to swim.


  1. TEST: All children ages 16 years and younger must participate in swimming tests. See a description of the tests below.
  2. MARK: Once tested, swimmers will be provided a GREEN, YELLOW or RED wristband based on their swimming ability. The bands give our lifeguards instant information on each child’s swimming ability, helping us keep them safe in the most appropriate swimming areas. Members of the YMCA of Greater Hartford will have their wristband color recorded at the Welcome Center so that each time the child comes to the Y for open swim he or she will be given the correct color band at the Membership Desk. Guests, program participants, birthday party guests, and any other non-members must be tested each time they visit one of our branches.
  3. PROTECT: All non-swimmers must be within arm’s reach of parent/guardian at all times during open swim, and we highly recommend that non-swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times.

All guests and program members will need to be swim tested each time they come to the Y for open swim, and will receive the correct color wristband at the Membership Desk or from the lifeguard who tests the child. Children in swimming lessons will not be expected to wear a wristband during lessons, but they must get one if they wish to stay in the water after lessons.

In addition to these layers of protection, we ask every parent/guardian to monitor your child at all times, even if your child is a good swimmer. We ask that you position yourself so you can easily see your child at all times, supervise their actions, and eliminate distractions, like cell phone use, while watching your child. This extra layer of protection will aid our lifeguards tremendously in keeping all youth safe in our pools.

If you have any questions in regards to aquatic safety or our aquatic programs please do not hesitate to contact your Y.

Thank you for your continued support in helping us keep our children safe while at our Ys.

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