Author: Benjamin Harrell
What is the Learn to Swim Program?
The SwimRVA Learn to Swim program is part of a larger initiative offering free swim lessons throughout the Greater Richmond area. SwimRVA currently teaches cost-free Learn to Swim programs from five different locations including:
- Virginia State University
- Hopewell Community Center
- Clover Hill Farms Recreation Association,
- Mechanicsville Recreation Association
- and the Collegiate School Aquatics Center.
Learn to Swim offers a seven-lesson SwimRVA Swim School program to second graders throughout the region. SwimRVA provides transportation, lifeguards, swim coaches, swim caps, bathing suits, and Richmond’s top aquatic professionals.
Allison Klettke, a parent from A.M Elementary, admitted to being apprehensive when she first heard about the program.
“[I was] curious about any costs involved [with Learn To Swim].When we learned it was part of a school program, we were happily surprised and very willing to have [Zachary] participate.”
While some doubters of off-campus learning argue that taking kids out of the classroom removes valuable education hours, a large majority of teachers and parents list positive results after participating in the Learn to Swim program.
“Learning can happen in many other environments other than the classroom.” said Mrs. Klettke. “This was a practical learning experience for all kids, especially for some who may not have other exposure to swimming. What a great opportunity to get some exercise during the day.”
Amy Beals, a teacher who participated in the first-ever session for Spring Run Elementary, had a first-person view of the change in the classroom as a result of the Learn to Swim program.
“For them, it’s another way to think about different things. When they come back, they’re more focused, they’re calmer.”
Swimming as a Source of Self-Esteem
For some kids the program served as a way to grow their self-esteem by working through new obstacles in the water. A major aspect of the Learn to Swim program is encouraging confidence through the Bell of Success. When a child passes a station and rings the Bell of Success, they are signifying their hard work paying off in the form of a special, personal recognition.
Every child is afforded the opportunity to ring the Bell of Success at every station, so no matter what level of swimming ability the student has, there will alway be goals to work toward. Zachary had taken lessons previously, but was just as excited to share his new skills with his family.
“He [Zachary] was never afraid of water, but learned how to better control his movements in the water and then float on his back . . . He shared with us what he learned [in Learn to Swim] and showed us the new techniques, like his dolphin kick, in May.”
By adding moments to celebrate each other’s successes, SwimRVA works to instill empathy in children at a young age. Every person present at the lesson gives a round of applause to the swimmer as they join the next station to continue learning.
“The kids are really proud of their classmates for moving up,” said Mrs. Beals. “I’ve seen that in the teachers too; they’re encouraging the kids to encourage each other.”
Ways to Help Drownproof Richmond
- Sign up for certified swimming lessons
- Advocate for aquatic facilities in your neighborhood
- Donate to local aquatic nonprofits in your area
- Volunteer with fellow aquatic advocates
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The Mission of SwimRVA is to elevate swimming in the Richmond region making water safety and aquatic fitness more accessible to all. We promise to serve as a catalyst for regional aquatics and community-wide focus on water safety, health and fitness, sports tourism, and competitive aquatics. Donate today to help support our mission