Wichita city pools offering swimming lessons to help dispel fear of water

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Summer break is in full swing, and kids are ready to dive in and hit the pools, but there are always concerns about drowning. The CDC said about ten people drown in the United States every day, but the City of Wichita Parks and Recreation Department is working to provide resources so kids can safely make a splash this summer.  

87 percent of non-swimming youth say they plan to visit a beach or pool this summer, according to the University of Memphis and USA Swimming Foundation.

Staff at each city pool will teach swim lessons this summer.

“Knowing how to swim is one of the best ways to prevent drowning and is one of the things that we think is an essential skill for people to know,” said Brian Hill, City of Wichita aquatics director. 

“We want everyone just to have that resource, and to feel safe when coming to a pool,” Trista Rusk, manager of McAfee Pool said. “That’s our ultimate goal is for them to feel comfortable and feel safe.” 

Rusk said anything can happen while in a pool—even to strong swimmers. 

“Whether it’s in a toddler area or a baby pool, anything can happen within a matter of seconds,” Rusk said. 

The USA Swimming Foundation found that children with parents who cannot swim only have a 13% chance of learning themselves. That is why Carolyn Clark signed her nephew up for lessons this summer—to stress the importance of what she calls “a life skill.” 

“We do a lot of activities with other people in the family, and to see him sit on the sidelines—or on the steps—it’s a little humiliating,” Clark said.  

For adults who are scared of getting their feet wet, there are classes available for late bloomers, too. 

“We’ll get you an instructor,” Hill said. “You’ll have maybe a couple of other adults, or you can do a private lesson, but we need to get you over that fear. We’ll get you swimming.” 

Rusk says youth can learn social skills at pools, and they’re a great place where everyone can have fun. 

“It not only helps them with self-confidence and self-esteem, but it also allows them to be safe around bodies of water.” 

The City of Wichita offers swimming lessons to four different skill level groups at all its pools throughout the summer. Lessons are $30 for two-week classes. Classes start on Mon., June 7 but there is still time to register. Funding available for families with limited income by emailing bhill@wichita.gov. For more information, visit the city’s aquatics website here

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