DALLAS -- For the first time, third grade students at Lyle, Whitworth and Oakdale Elementaries participated in six-week-long swim classes at the Dallas Aquatic Center this school year.
For the last few years, the swim program had only been open to sixth grade students at LaCreole Middle School. But with the help of community grants and parent support, the third graders are getting lessons too.
"When we started, I had some real reservations about it," third grade teacher Georgie Naughton said, "because we were going to have to waste a lot of time over there getting the kids set up. But whatever kinks cropped up, the district worked out. It went really well.
"It's a life skill that they will use forever," Naughton added.
Last month the Dallas Community Foundation granted $1,000 to the program. This will allow the schools to continue next year and hopefully start a tradition at their schools.
The classes are aimed at giving kids the basics in swimming and making them more comfortable in the water. Teachers said that even in the third grade, just a small portion (perhaps one or two students per class) were able to swim at all.
"One parent was particularly excited about the classes, because her son's uncle had drowned, and he (the child) was absolutely terrified of the water," teacher Lonnie Oliff said.
"The instructors were just fantastic, and by the end of the six weeks he loved being in the water."
The classes cost each child $20. It is hoped that the community grant will offset some of that next year. This year, parents augmented the funding so that no student was turned away by the cost.
"We had some really generous parents who donated extra swimsuits and extra fee money. No kid had to miss out," teacher Barb Buchan said.