Kids Plunge Head On Into Swim­ming Lessons

The Oakdale Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By AU­TUMN NEAL Leader Cor­re­spon­dent

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 ses-

sions, 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-yearold, 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 15to 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. Nineyear-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.

AU­TUMN NEAL/THE LEADER

This group of Level 2 stu­dents is get­ting com­fort­able on their kick­boards as Coach Kas­sidy Houck gets ready to take them across the pool.

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