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‘Like ducks to water’

KCPRD and FBC of Camden team up to provide swim lessons

Posted: July 24, 2014 4:38 p.m.
Updated: July 25, 2014 5:00 a.m.
Gary Phillips/C-I

A swim instructor with the Kershaw County Parks and Recreation Department helps students with floating techniques and swimming strokes Wednesday. The children participated in a four-day swim lesson program coordinated with First Baptist Church of Camden.

A group of Kershaw County children have learned to swim this week, thanks to a partnership between the Kershaw County Parks and Recreation Department (KCPRD) and First Baptist Church (FBC) of Camden. Patty Rose is the director of urban missions for FBC and said she became aware of the need for the swim lessons when kids in her program attended a pool party.

“We typically meet on Wednesday nights throughout the school year and, at the end of the year, we had a swimming party for them at one of our member’s houses and a lot of them couldn’t swim,” Rose said. “We were concerned and approached the rec department about the possibility of getting a group swim lesson together for them. They were very receptive. We have 15 or so kids, with all varying degrees of abilities. The instructors have been great and very patient.”

The program ended Thursday and Rose said those who completed it received the extra bonus of free admission to the pool for the rest of this season. She said some students made remarkable progress in the four days of lessons.

“We had one child who was afraid to let go of the edge of the pool. In her third day, she’s still close to the edge of the pool, but she’s getting off of it some. The first day we were all in the shallow end and by the end of the lesson, 40 minutes later, the majority of the kids were over in the deep end,” Rose said. “It’s amazing the progress just 40 minutes a morning in the pool has made, with some instruction.”

KCPRD Program Director Amy Peebles said the lessons were a steady progression after first determining each child’s comfort level and swimming ability.

“The first day you always try to overcome their fear of water. Then we go with the pace of the kids and how they’re learning,” Peebles said. “We consider this to be like private lessons. Granted, we do have two or three kids with each instructor, but we group them skill-wise and they’re able to learn better together.”

Peebles said after any fears are cast aside, the real learning begins.

“Then they start learning the strokes, the basic skills of going under, jumping off the side and some get up on the dive blocks to learn the appropriate dives,” she said. “They work the rest of the week on their skills, to make sure they have that basic comfort level of swimming. It’s wonderful to watch their progress.”

KCPRD Director Joe Eason credits Rose, Peebles and the instructors for the program’s success.

“We knew we could start this on a small scale. We’re not equipped to teach every kid in the fifth grade how to swim like a lot of communities do. On a smaller scale this is kind of getting to the core of that, where kids aren’t comfortable in the water and don’t know proper technique. We can bring them here for a period of time and teach them those things and equip them to be in the water down the road,” Eason said. “Basically, it’s an experiment for us to see if it’s something we can do with the time we have. We were able to put this at the later part of the summer when the demand for swim lessons is not so great, so we can provide something we feel is very important.”

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