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Kids Plunge Head On Into Swimming Lessons
swim lessons
This group of Level 2 students is getting comfortable on their kickboards as Coach Kassidy Houck gets ready to take them across the pool.

With kids out of school, Fourth of July celebrations, and temperatures rising, Oakdale is reaching the peak of the summer season. Cool alternatives to beat the heat include taking a trip to swim in Pinecrest Lake, traveling down the Stanislaus River, and heading to your local pool to take a dip ... but can your kids handle the water?

Mondays through Thursdays this summer, the Royse Memorial Plunge hosts swimming lessons for local kids in the morning and evening. Lessons range from “mommy-and-me” classes where parents can get in the water with their child ages eight months to two years old and help them get used to the water, to Swim Team Prep, where swimmers work mainly on endurance, perfecting strokes, and swimming farther than they have before. In between are beginners lessons and Levels 1 through 4. Parents can even pay extra for their child to have solo time with an instructor in private lessons.

During the two-week sessions, instructors will work with their swimmers to determine how their students can progress. They even use report cards to track progress and let families know how their child is doing at the end of the session.

“It’s on kind of a closer level because as a 19-year-old, you don’t get to spend time with three, four, even six- or seven-year-olds,” Coach Clare McKeon explained.

McKeon has been giving lessons through the city for two years now, and has given lessons on her own for four years.

Coaches range from 15- to 20-years-old and are frequently members of the local swim or water polo teams. This especially helps them work with their students to perfect their strokes.

“You get to know these little kids in a way that you would’ve never gotten to know them before,” McKeon said of her favorite part of teaching lessons. “And of course seeing improvements and there’s the satisfaction that a part of you and what you taught them will go on with these kids forever.”

The instructors and their students do have genuine relationships. Nine-year-old Emma O’Cha exclaimed “I guess time flies by when you’re having fun!” at the end of her lesson.

Veteran coach Makenzie Phillips mainly teaches beginners and “mommy-and-me” classes. Because she starts kids off at such a young age, she gets to see them progress from her class to upper levels through the years as they continue swimming.

“The most challenging part is getting them to trust you and face that fear head-on,” McKeon said of swimmers with a fear of water or jumping in. “Because that can be really difficult not just for me as the instructor but also difficult for the child so it’s just a process you have to go through together.”

By this comment, the relationships developed seem to be almost necessary for students to progress, and the instructors at the Plunge have no trouble cultivating these relationships, as seen by the progress made by students in just their first week of lessons.

While the current session wraps up on Friday, July 6, there will still be two more two-week sessions this summer. Parents can register their kids at City Hall up until the Thursday before the next set of lessons – Session Three deadline is July 5, and Session Four deadline is July 19.

On July 4, the pool will be open from noon to 5 p.m., but with no swim lessons or adult programs. On Friday, July 6, the pool will be open noon to 4 p.m. with makeups for July 4 lessons at regularly scheduled times. Friday, there will also be adult programs 11 a.m. to noon, with no evening classes.

To sign up for classes, go to City Hall at 280 N. Third Ave. from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or registration and fee can be mailed in.