Swimming lessons

Published 12:02 am Saturday, June 9, 2012

Swim instructor Taylor Donaldson instructs the advanced beginners on the butterfly stroke.

Swimming lessons are crucial to keeping children and adults alive, and the Andalusia Department of Leisure Services is doing its part to help teach children to swim.

This summer, the city is offering swim lessons at Cooper Pool, which are open to kids ages 5 to 14. The lessons run for two weeks and there are three sessions, one of which is under way.

The second session will begin June 18-29 and July 2-13.

Classes are Monday through Friday and available at 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 11 a.m.

Sign-up is the Thursday and Friday prior to the start from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Johnson Park.

During the lessons, students learn how to swim to the side and climb out of the water, float on their backs, beginning freestyle stroke, safety skills, diving and floating.

Lifeguards and swim instructors are Will Jackson, Jordan McGhee, Kelsey Ramirez and Taylor Donaldson.

“The obvious goal is so that kids don’t drown,” said McGhee.

“They remember ‘chocolate and vanilla,’” said Ramirez, speaking of the technique they use to teach freestyle strokes.

“It makes them more confident,” Donaldson said, who is teaching the more advanced students. “This is something they can take with them the rest of their lives.”

“And some kids break out of their shells, when they learn to swim,” McGhee said.

The girls agreed swimming is very crucial in this area, with all the water around here.

“We all took swimming lessons when we were younger,” McGhee said. “And it’s helped us.”

“It also opens up a lot of doors,” Jackson said. “Specifically, a whole other world of recreation.”

Local lifeguards estimate they’ll teach nearly 150 children how to swim this summer.

Taking part in formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning among children aged 1 to 4 years.

However, many people don’t have basic swimming skills.

A CDC study about self-reported swimming ability found that:

• Younger adults reported greater swimming ability than older adults.

• Self-reported ability increased with level of education.

• Among racial groups, African Americans reported the most limited swimming ability.