Kids First Swim School to host open house

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— While its name may be “Kids First Swim School” Zoe Mil­burn, man­ager of the busi­ness on Pu­laski High­way, said ev­ery­one needs to know how to swim.

Mil­burn said that’s why the school is host­ing an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 24. She wants peo­ple to see that “Kids First” is for ev­ery­one.

“We have an adult class on

ELK­TON

Mon­days and Fri­days,” Mil­burn said. “We’re de­vel­op­ing a teen class.”

The open house will in­clude free swim­ming plus games, re­fresh­ments and ac­tiv­i­ties.

But the fo­cus of the 8-yearold school in the Alexan­dria Vil­lage Cen­ter — one of more than 30 lo­ca­tions from New York to South Carolina — is to teach chil­dren, even those who have barely mas­tered walk­ing.

“We’re very Mil­burn said. hands-on,”

The cur­ricu­lum is the same no mat­ter which Kids First lo­ca­tion is cho­sen. The first goal is to get kids com­fort­able with be­ing in the water, though it’s hard to imag­ine how any­one could not be com­fort­able in an in­door pool heated year round.

“The 90-de­gree water is very, very calm­ing,” she said.

The half-hour classes have no more than five chil­dren. For the youngest, it’s a “Mommy and Me” or “Daddy and Me” class with the par­ents ac­com­pa­ny­ing their child. Mil­burn leads songs such as “The Wheels on the Bus” in­cor­po­rated with move­ments that cre­ate splash­ing and gig­gles. The kids are floated on their backs, en­cour­aged to blow bub­bles and to jump off the side to wait­ing arms. Dur­ing the les­son, Mil­burn takes turns in­ter­act­ing with each child. Mom or Dad is nearby, but it’s an im­por­tant part of the next step.

At the next level of train­ing, par­ents stay in an­other room. Only the in­struc­tor is in the pool with the kids.

“We have a one-way win­dow,” she said. “The par­ents can watch but with no in­ter­fer­ence.”

Jackie Mayer re­cently brought her chil­dren, Kathryn, 5, and Frankie, 3, to the school.

“She’s been com­ing since she was 9 months old,” Mayer said.

Frankie started around the same age. Both chil­dren bobbed around the pool fear­lessly.

The school has added a com­pet­i­tive el­e­ment with swim­mers com­pet­ing against other Kids First schools. She has two young­sters with se­ri­ous tal­ent, Mayer said.

How­ever, Mil­burn said they don’t lose sight of their pri­mary goal, which is to ef­fec­tively make kids safer around water.

“We hear about that kid ... the par­ents will say, ‘My kid fell in and he did it!,’” she said. “We want them to (learn to swim) the right way and it’s grat­i­fy­ing when they get it.”

Pa­tri­cia Ku­mar said that’s ex­actly why she had Natalie, 2, in the tod­dler class.

“I look at this class as a life­sav­ing skill,” the Bear, Del. woman said. “Ev­ery­one should do this.”

Prov­ing it’s never too late to learn, Mil­burn said a 52-year-old who needed to swim for a job in law en­force­ment, and an 80-yearold com­pet­i­tive run­ner who wanted to do a marathon also learned to swim at the Elk­ton school.

“It is Kids First Swim School, but we want ev­ery­one to learn to swim,” Mil­burn said.

Kids First Swim School also opens to the pub­lic for free swim­ming on week­ends. The cost is $5 per per­son or $15 for a fam­ily. The pool can also be re­served for pri­vate par­ties and home school­ers.

“We’re all Red Cross-trained life­guards,” Mil­burn said.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the open house, classes or open swim times, call Kids First Swim School at 410620-1012.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Zoe Mil­burn, left, tries to en­cour­age Ken­nadi Sweatt to blow bub­bles in the water dur­ing the “Mommy and Me” class at Kids First Swim School in Elk­ton.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Ratisha Sweatt as­sures her daugh­ter, Ken­nadi, dur­ing the back-float­ing les­son por­tion of the Mommy and Me class at Kids First Swim School in Elk­ton Thurs­day.

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