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Make a splash with swim lessons
01/28/2013

Participants benefit from one-on-one learning with certified water safety instructors.

It may not seem like it at first, but human beings spend a lot of time around water. Take a moment to think about how much water you encounter in a given day. Whether you’re taking a shower, crossing a creek on the way to work, getting caught in the rain, or simply taking a drink, water is just about everywhere. While odds are good you won’t drown in a rainstorm, knowing how to swim can not only help you maintain an active lifestyle, it also can save your life.

Throughout the year, the Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook offers American Red Cross Swimming Lessons. These sessions follow the American Red Cross’ “Learn to Swim” guidelines, and are designed to help children learn to swim as early as 6 months of age. The classes consist of eight sessions led by certified water safety instructors who teach everything from the fundamentals of swimming to more advanced stroke techniques. Wellness Centers assistant director Cheryl Land says the information learned in these classes can lead to lifelong lessons. “The classes help children get the swimming skills they need to be more confident in the water,” Land said. “They can be safer by learning water safety skills and can enjoy the sport or recreation of swimming for the rest of their lives. Imagine not having any of these skills and not being able to go to any pool parties or take part in trips to the lake,” she added.

Water safety instructor Dawn Bannon says one of the benefits of swimming lessons is that kids learn how to swim with other kids their age. “Our approach is geared to hit kids at their age and experience levels,” she said. “Kids learn a lot faster when they’re learning in a group. They learn through observing other kids and, as instructors, we are trained to give students the feedback they need to go forward,” Bannon added. “For example, we teach kids to look before leaping and to always go into the water feet first. You don’t know what is underneath you in the water, particularly if you’re in lakes or oceans,” she explained. “We teach them how to call 911 for help, the importance of wearing life jackets, how cold water and ice can affect the body, some elements of boating safety, and why they shouldn’t use water toys as life-saving devices. Kids spend a lot of time around water, especially in the summertime, so we want to make sure they have that safety training when they are young,” Bannon said.

Land maintains the classes are much more beneficial than relying on a parent or family member to teach swimming skills to kids. “These sessions are standardized and age-appropriate. You know what the instructor knows. They are certified, they enjoy children and they enjoy teaching,” she explained. “Simply teaching a child to jump into a body of water may not be the right technique. It’s always better to learn something the right way than to have to relearn it later in life. The Wellness Center at Springbrook is a clean environment, a safe environment and a proven environment for success,” Land said.

This year, the first round of swimming lessons at the Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook begins on Feb. 2 and run through March 23. These courses are very popular and can fill up quickly. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required. Sessions are $45 for Wellness Center members and $70 for non-members. For more information, or to register for a session, contact the Wellness Center’s aquatics office at 865-980-7120.
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