PAWTUCKET, R.I. (January 12, 2021) Starting in January, the MacColl YMCA will being offering an adaptive swim program for children with special needs.

Known as Swim Angelfish, the program will be led by Alexandria McCormick, MacColl’s aquatic director. McCormick was recently certified as a Swim Angelfish instructor. “For me, safety is the most important thing. But it’s also important for kids to just be able to have fun,” said McCormick. “Every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim. This program ensures that children with special needs have that opportunity and can learn at their own pace in a way that works for them and their particular needs.”

The first session will start in mid-January and run for about four weeks. It is aimed at children ages 4 to 7. For now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, classes will consist of one-on-one instruction. There are five spots in the first session.

Swim Angelfish was founded 20 years ago by two therapists and is available in several New England states and New York. It is geared toward children with Autism, sensory and motor coordination issues, anxiety, trauma, or general discomfort with being in the water. Instructors use a range of techniques to help children feel more comfortable, such as using ankle weights to simulate the normal feeling of walking on the ground. The program proceeds at a slow pace with simple, achieveable goals for each lesson.

McCormick said she has developed a passion for working with those with special needs after working for over a decade teaching children how to swim. McCormick, who is a Cumberland resident, has worked as a swim instructor, lifeguard, and swim lesson coordinator for the Y. She was promoted to aquatic director in 2019.

“Alexandria is a dedicated member of the Y community whose passion for teaching children how to swim and working with those who have special needs makes her the perfect choice to lead this new program,” said Jeanine Achin, the Chief Operations Officer at the YMCA of Pawtucket. “Swim Angelfish is yet another example of our commitment to serving the needs of all of our community members, helping them to achieve physical, social, and emotion wellbeing.”

For more information, call the MacColl YMCA at 401-725-0773 or email Alexandria McCormick at For more information about Swim Angelfish, visit or view the Good Morning America feature on the program here.

About the YMCA

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. The YMCA of Pawtucket is comprised of five branches across the state: Pawtucket Family YMCA and Heritage Park YMCA Early Learning Center in Pawtucket, MacColl YMCA in Lincoln, Westwood YMCA in Coventry and Woonsocket YMCA.