The city of North Bay is teaming up with the Canadian Lifesaving Society to conduct free swimming lessons for youth at a public beach this summer.

The city says it’s an effort to teach youth how to swim to survive during National Drowning Prevention Week, July 17-23.

The lifesaving society said swimming is considered the second most popular activity among children between the ages of five and twelve.

“Survival skills for when you roll into the water, and that’s something that everybody living near the lake should have the opportunity to go and get those skills and make sure they’re as safe as possible,” said the city’s Bryan Kimber.

The swim-to-survive skills are not meant to replace swimming lessons.

The course will be conducted on July 24 at Olmstead Beach, where instructors teach children between 6 and 14 how to roll into the water, tread water for a minute and swim 50 meters.

“What's important is to reach out to youth especially during their school years so they can learn these skills as a child,” said Barbara Byers of the Canadian Lifesaving Society.

Lifejacket use and general boating safety will also be included in the program, and pre-registration is not required.

"We can reach them when they’re young in addition to them having the skills to keep them safe when they’re a child. They’ll have these skills to keep them safe and enjoy the water for the rest of their life," said Byers.

The society said, drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children under the age of 10.

“For many children, they haven't had swimming lessons in over two years and that's a concern, because we know how important it is and we want both children and parents to be aware of how important it is," Byers said.

The society estimates nearly 160 people drown in Ontario lakes and swimming pools each year.