SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — More than 400 students have been signed up for a new swim lessons program at the Schenectady City School District. Aquatics Director Brian Melanson said the wave of enrollment was actually a happy accident.

“We started with a six-week, Thursday night, 50-person time slot,” Melanson explained.

He said the form was supposed to stop accepting sign-ups after 50 entries. Instead, around 425 students got their names in.

“We made a mistake, and it was a great mistake,” said Melanson.

The district hasn’t offered swim lessons for several years. The unprecedented number of sign-ups told Melanson he needed to find a way to accommodate as many families as possible.

“There’s obviously a need in this district,” Melanson said, “and we need to fit this need.”

According to the CDC, in the U.S., for children ages 5–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death.

The swim lessons at Schenectady are being offered for free. The faculty hopes this breaks down what may have been a barrier for some, and will help keep more kids safe in the water as a result.

“Equity really comes into play here, and inclusivity really comes into play here,” said Kimberly Pilla, Assistant Director of Physical Education and Health.

“We don’t want to have an opportunity for kids that isn’t inclusive of all of our students here,” Pilla added.

School officials also hope the lessons spark an early interest in the sport of swimming.

Coach Melanson recently updated families of the district on his plan to accommodate as many students as possible through an announcement on the district website.