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Imagine being able to relax at the pool without worrying about whether your child will jump in without his floaties.
Danny Fadgen, aquatics director at the Jewish Community Center, has been coaching swimming to kids of all ages for 30 years. He knows the consequences that can ensue from a rambunctious child who doesn’t have a healthy respect for the water.
“Every summer, I have at least one or two kids that go off of the diving board, and sink straight to the bottom,” Fadgen says. “It is so important for kids to gain respect for the water, and know what their capabilities are.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. Drowning is the number-one cause of death for children under 5.
“Swim lessons are critical for my boys, because we spend every summer by a lake,” says Leslie Taylor, mom of Emery (4) and Fletcher (6), whose children enrolled in swim classes at the Kroc Center. “The instructors here are really good about stressing the importance of safety precautions around a lake.”
One thing Taylor particularly likes is that instructors at the Kroc give a brief synopsis after each lesson of what her children need to work on and what they are doing well.
“At first, we had a few issues with Emery being afraid of the deep end, but the coaches are really good about helping the kids getting over the fear,” Taylor says.
Although building a bond with the children is important, instructors must also take into consideration they only have roughly 30 minutes each session to teach five or six students.
“Sometimes, when you have a really passionate instructor, they want to spend two or three minutes with a kid making sure they are getting the strokes down,” says Fadgen. “This can pose a problem, because the other kids start to get bored. It’s important to find that fine line where you give them enough time to practice the skill without losing track of time.”
Swim lessons at the JCC, Kroc Center, and Nuber YMCA are open to members as well as nonmembers, and cost less than $100 per two-week session. The facilities divide their classes based on ability of swimmer, not age.
“We have a written lesson plan we give to instructors for each level and put beginner swimmers with other beginners based on their age range,” says Angel Johnson, aquatics director at the Kroc Center. Johnson says at least 14 students enrolled in swim lessons there have gone to join the Kroc’s swim team.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned when teaching little ones how to swim is that talking about what you are going to do in the lesson just makes them wired up and anxious,” Fadgen says. “I have a game plan before I hit the pool deck, so when I get out there, I just take my hat and shirt off and jump in. By the time the lessons are over, they’re dumbfounded, they have no idea how the lesson happened so quickly! ”