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Elementary schools partner with Hurley Y to teach kids to swim

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – Not everyone picks up the life skill of swimming.

But as part of a partnership between some local elementary schools and the Hurley YMCA, second graders are getting swimming worked into what they learn at school. The ability to swim gives people the chance to take on outdoor adventures like kayaking, scuba diving or just jump off a diving board and navigate deeper waters at a local pool.

The program in Rowan started in January and evolved from conversations with school administrators. It is free for families at the school, funded by grants and partially by the Salisbury Community Foundation. The grant specifically pays for instructors.

Parents sign off on their child participating in the program. Koontz, Overton, Hanford Dole, Isenberg, North Rowan, and Hurley elementary schools are participating.

This week, some classes from Isenberg Elementary were at the YMCA to take the course, which is a mix of class and in-pool construction. Over four days, participants learn about pool rules, CPR and boat and ocean safety. Isenberg teacher Lyndsay Tomlinson said only half her class could swim or had any exposure to being in water going in to the program.

“It’s been awesome,” Tomlinson said, adding the program is very organized.

Teacher assistant Azende King was one of the faculty members to get in the water and help students with the lessons.

“Today is boat day so we’ll be teaching them how to be safe in the boat as well as how to help if someone falls out,” King said.

King said he enjoys the program and that it lets students experience something they may not be able to outside of school.

“The YMCA in general is one of the largest providers of swim lessons across the country,” said Hurley Y Executive Director Richard Reinholz. “We want to be partners in the community to make it a better and healthier place. Unfortunately a lot of the kids do not get exposed to pools or swim lessons for lots of different reasons.”

The program is new in Rowan County but not completely unique, as Reinholz previously oversaw a second grade swim program at the Davie Family YMCA. Second graders are old enough to cooperate and understand the material, and they do not have standardized testing to deal with yet, as end-of-grade tests begin in third grade.

Jennifer Burroughs is the second grade swim and youth development coordinator for the Y. She said Reinholz got the program going.

“The biggest thing that we’ve seen so far is the progress in the water,” Burroughs said. “A lot of these kids have never been in the water before. They’re scared of it. It’s giving them safety for being in the water.”

PaigeLyn Miller, one of the students, said she has been having fun in the program. Her favorite part was learning about CPR.

The Y also has an Exceptional Children water therapy program for Rowan-Salisbury students which available through all the district’s high schools and most of its middle schools.

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