July 24, 2014 --
With less than two months of summer remaining, children and adults continue to look for ways to cool themselves from the summer heat, one of them being the swimming pool.
Marine Corps Community Services’ Semper Fit program offered five swimming classes ranging from teaching children and adults how to swim, to a Mom and Me class, which assists adults with children younger than 3 years old in learning to be at ease in the swimming pool.
Swim instructor Elisabeth Allen with Semper Fit, MCCS, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, wants the pool to be a fun place for children instead of a scary one.
“Some children are very fearful of the water, so we make it a fun environment where they can learn safety skills and basic swimming skills,” she said. “During youth swim lessons, we work on basic water skills for different levels and water acclimation, which is getting the little ones comfortable in the water.”
The youth swim lessons are based on skill and comfort level and not age. The classes included Bubble Blowers, Aqua Kids and Super Swimmer enforce the fundamentals of swimming, according to Allen.
She said the Bubble Blowers course, designed for the new swimmer, teaches children water acclimation, bubble blowing, kicking, floating and pool safety.
Allen stated the Aqua Kids class is for children who are comfortable in the water. During this class, the children continue to work on their basic skills and learn other swimming techniques such as the kick, front crawl and the breaststroke.
In the Super Swimmer class, children learn to develop their strokes and improve endurance while learning new skills such as the back crawl, treading water and diving, according to the swim instructor.
Allen said the children’s classes are held twice each year; one in June and the other in July.
She also said an adult swimming class is held to teach adults how to swim and a Mom and Me class is offered for adults with children younger than 3 years old.
“In the Mom and Me class, adults learn swimming safety, getting babies acclimated with water and entering and exiting a pool with a child,” she said.
Allen has been teaching the youth swim lessons for seven years.
“The best part about it is when you see a child who is so scared of the water (and then) is able to swim to the side of the pool,” she said. “They are so excited and (for me) that is the best feeling.”
On Sebastian Escovar’s first day, he would not go near the stairs that leads down into the pool much less get into the pool, according to Allen.
“(Now) he can go under water with assistance and he realizes it is not scary and it is fun, which is really cool,” Allen said.
Michael Malone was among several grandparents who brought their grandchildren to the Base Pool to learn how to swim.
“I want my grandkids to learn how to swim while they are young,” Malone said. “It is rewarding and they are making great effort.”
Malone’s grandson, Kawan Joyner, 8, said his favorite part of swimming was to “go under water and get the toys on the bottom of the pool. I like to get on the platform turtle and swim all the way to the rope and come back and then I jump off.”
Theordore Freels said he feels the class is extremely important for his grandson, Gabriel Freels, 5.
“He is autistic and with the different things that can happen (around water, the class) teaches the fundamental skills of swimming, safety and following directions,” Freels said. “This is excellent training and I think the (instructors) are doing a wonderful job and have a great relationship with the students.”
Elaine Howard, grandmother of Luke Howard, 5, and Bridgette Cox, grandmother of Kolin Cox, 4, said they are part of the “grandmas’ club” because they are working on the swimming buddy system.
“We both want them to be safe in the pool and to make sure if they were to fall in that they would be OK and not drown,” Howard said.
Howard and Cox said they both look forward to coming back next year.
“We have already made plans to come back next year,” Cox said. “We think this is a great program and we found out about it through people who work here on base. It is been awesome.
“This has been a great experience for him and he is not scared and (is) very attentive,” she added. “We just appreciate (the program) being offered. I have checked into it and there is nothing else this good for them.”
For more information, call 229-639-5246.