Come splash at WOU

A boy leaps into the water during a swimming lesson.

MONMOUTH — If you’re a parent looking for activities to sign your kid up to this fall, Western Oregon University offers community youth swim lessons each term for kids ages 6 months to early teens.

Swim lessons are offered once per term, twice a week for a half hour each lesson, for six weeks, with different classes catering to the different age groups and abilities.

Swimmer N’ Me is a class for parent and child, with songs, games, playing with bubbles and getting a feel for the water.

The preschool class is for kids 3-5, and is taught in the therapy pool.

Levels one through four are classes that help get kids comfortable alone in the water, and working on fundamental swimming skills and techniques like back float, diving, different strokes and endurance.

“So it’s doing a lot of things assisted but trying to get them to do things on their own, like a back float,” said swim instructor Erica Evans. “It’s really about ability.”

Once a child has passed level four, they move on to Fun Instructional Swim Hour, or FISH kids. Here, they continue to work on the skills and techniques needed to join a swim team, if that is the child’s goal, or just for becoming a better swimmer overall.

The instructors work with the kids and their parents to make sure each lesson is fun and molded toward each individual’s goal.

Evans, an Elementary Education major at WOU, says she loves teaching kids how to swim.

“I just love kids. I love their imagination.”

Getting into the water for the first time can be a scary experience, and Evans said working with kids to get past that fear is something she encounters a lot.

“I let them know they’re safe,” she said. “I just try to encourage them to get in the water. And sometimes if kids are super timid, I try to make a game of it, somehow. I just keep on keeping on to get them in the water.”

She said her favorite part about teaching swim lessons is that moment when a kid “gets it.”

“One day it just clicks for them and they get it, and that is what I live for,” she said, “that lightbulb going on.”

The classes are offered Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. The instructor to swimmer ratio is one instructor per three to five swimmers. Each instructor is CPR certified, and there will be a lifeguard on duty during each lesson.

Evans, who has been teaching swim lessons for seven years, sees a huge value in teaching kids how to swim.

“I think everyone should know how to swim,” she said. “Mostly because I think it should be a life skill. If they get themselves in a situation where they’re in water or around water, that they can feel safe. And that’s the main thing, is making sure they feel safe.”

If group swim lessons sound too intimidating, private and semi-private lesson are also offered.

Registration for fall swim lessons begins Aug. 20 through Aug. 31 and September 17 through Oct. 1, and lessons begin the first week of October.

Prices include $48 for swim lessons, $66 for FISH kids, $75 for semi-private lessons, and $120 for private lessons.

To pay, visit the front desk at the Health and Wellness Center with cash or check.

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