Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2006

Swimming taught step by step

June 22, 2006

Makena Jarboe's favorite way to swim is the backstroke.

"It's the easiest," she said. "I'm still learning the other ones."

Makena, who will enter sixth grade next fall at Lexington Trails Middle School, is taking some of her first swimming lessons at De Soto Aquatic Center.

"She's had a few lessons, but we really wanted to try out our new pool," her mother, Jane Jarboe, said. "She just needs to learn endurance."

Instructor Pam Titus takes seven students from fourth to sixth grade to the mid-depth section of the pool. They already know the routine beginner skills and begin bobbing up and down to show they're not afraid to stick their faces underwater. Titus has each student show her their "crawl" across the water, making sure they're breathing properly instead of gliding across the pool in one breath.

Across the pool in deeper waters, Sarah Jokisch is teaching sixth-level students proper swimming technique.

"I think it's important for them to be safe at the pool," she said. "They'll be better swimmers. Part of having fun at the pool is knowing how to swim."

Jokisch and Titus each have four classes every morning. The courses are part of the De Soto Parks and Recreation's summer activities. There are also evening classes for beginning students so they can attend with their parents, a water aerobics class for senior citizens and a Dolphin Swim Club. The swim club is new this year to De Soto, and organizers hope it will eventually be a competitive opportunity for youth.

In Titus' intermediate class, she makes sure the students understand techniques for basic swim strokes. To practice the elementary backstroke, they learn "bird, airplane, soldier," and rotate their arms to their shoulders, then out to their sides, then flat at their sides.

"If one of your arms is stronger than the other, you'll go in a circle," she tells the students.

The students also practice kicking, regular backstroke and even go into the deep end to practice swimming when their feet can't reach the bottom without going underwater.

Chandler Carter says it's important for other students to learn how to swim.

"It's so they don't drown," he said.

Mackenzie Mathers agreed.

"If you can swim, you don't have to stay in the baby pool," she said.

De Soto parent Pam Moore is taking her children, Rachel, 8, and Riley, 6, for their first lessons this year.

"We have a boat and go to Clinton Lake a lot, but they're certainly not ready to go off the diving board," she said. "They need to learn a safe way to swim."

Classes are $35 per student per session. Deadlines to register are the Friday before each class begins. The current session is through June 30. Session 3 will be from July 3 to July 14 and session 4 will be from July 17 to July 28. For more information on swim lessons, contact the De Soto Parks and Recreation, (913) 583-1182 ext. 131.

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