(photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Kids are splashing into fun during their swimming lessons at the Southeast Missouri YMCA this summer.
"It's fun and you learn how to swim," Taylor Kirkpatrick, 8, said. Taylor, a Minnow, said she's learning the backstroke and the sidestroke.
Taylor's been taking swimming lessons for four years, and her older brother, Logan Kirkpatrick, 11, has taken them for five years. Logan is a Flying Fish and is a little more advanced. He said he's working on his freestyle and dive.
"My favorite thing to do is to get on the kickboards 'cause it's like surfing," Logan said.
The YMCA is offering two swimming lesson sessions. The first session began June 17 and will end Thursday. The second session is from July 17-25, and registration begins July 8 and 9 for YMCA members and July 10-12 for the general public.
Swimming instructor Julie Cardwell, 20, teaches the Pike, Guppy and Minnow classes. "I just try to make it where the kids aren't scared of the water," she said about the Pike group. "So I teach them how to doggie paddle. I try to make it fun by playing games and having them jump into the pool."
Four-year-old Trent Sidwell said in his Eel class, he's learning how to float, dive, kick and swim on his back. He also said that diving for pennies is his favorite activity during the program.
The National YMCA Aquatics programs are designed to teach personal water safety, stroke development, water sports and games and personal growth in children. The programs are divided by age and skill levels. Children learn at their own pace, and instructors complete four to six hours of training prior to teaching YMCA lessons.
Ben F. Marshall, 18, of Sikeston said he instructs the same classes Cardwell does, as well as the Fish class. He teaches the older kids techniques that are little more detailed and harder -- like the butterfly.
Both Cardwell and Marshall, who have been swimming instructors since they were 15 years old, incorporate pool safety into their classes. For example, Cardwell teaches the kids how to throw something out into the water in an emergency. Marshall shows his advanced classes how to jump in with a tube and bring it back to the pool wall.
Youngsters not only develop swimming skills, but social skills as well. "Swimming lessons teach children how to get along with others," Cardwell explained. "It teaches respect and adds self-confidence. If they do something well, I tell them about it. We also give out ribbons."
Cardwell said swimming lessons are not expensive, and prices are very reasonable. It costs $12 for YMCA members and $15 for the general public. Lessons take place from 9:15 a.m. to noon and from 5 p.m. to 6:45 pm., with each class lasting 45 minutes, Monday through Thursday for two weeks. Space is limited for each class.
"Swimming is very important," Cardwell said. "Everyone should learn how to swim."
For more information about swimming lessons at the YMCA, call (573) 472-9622. Adult swimming lessons will also be available this summer. Times and days have not been determined so those interested should contact the YMCA.