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Swimmers Learning To Stay Safe, Cool In The Pool
By learning how to float, swimmers start to relax in the water and can start to submerge easier. Shown, Instructor Vinny Campbell eases his swimmer into this technique. Autumn Neal/The Leader

As the summer heat starts to creep in, kids of all ages are now welcome in Oakdale’s pool, The Plunge, for swimming lessons. Royse Memorial Swimming Pool in Dorada Park at 555 N. Third Ave., is open for lessons no matter the skill-set.

Local instructor Makenzie Phillips is in the midst of the summer’s schedule of two-week session and it’s safe to say that she and her fellow coworkers are keeping busy.

“I have two beginners, two mommy-and-me’s, and water aerobics,” she commented on her first group of learners for the season.

After years of experience, she’s seen the kids grow in their skill.

“They develop really fast so a lot of them are really small when they begin and you get to see them getting better and eventually swimming on their own,” she noted.

Children from eight months to two years old can take parent and child classes to give them an introduction to the water. In this class, they are introduced to arm movement, floating, and submersion to “encourage confidence” and adjust them to the water. From there, they are able to move onto Beginners, then to Levels 1 through 4. Kids will start out developing leg and arm movements and jumping in during their preliminary classes to eventually swimming 25 meters across the pool with little or no rest and working on their strokes – freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke as well as an introduction to butterfly.

After finishing a session with Nicole Groteguth, swimmer Daniel Lemas commented his favorite part of practice was “the jumps,” which lend to valuable confidence and submersion skills.

The most advanced lesson, swim team prep, focuses on getting kids across the pool and back, 50 meters, on their own, diving to the bottom of the pool, and treading water for 60 seconds.

In order to track progress, the instructors hand out report cards at the end of each two week session.

“There are different things that they’re supposed to have done in order to move on to the next level, so that kind of gives you a guideline,” Phillips remarked.

Furthermore, the instructors invest both their time and their hearts into each lesson. Phillips said her favorite part of teaching is “when they master something and they get really excited or when they realize they’re not afraid of the water anymore.”

The camaraderie between the teachers and kids they teach is evident; not only are swimmers gaining valuable skills, but also developing an important relationship with their instructors.

Sessions run for two weeks, the next starting on July 10, with eight classes for 30 minutes each day. Classes can be registered for at City Hall, 280 N. Third Avenue from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or registration and fee can be mailed in. The deadline for registration is 4:30 p.m. the Thursday before the next two-week session of classes start.