As we enter 2020, 3rd grade students are on the final stretch of their swim courses with the Whitley County YMCA. Over a period of six weeks, these third grade students will learn water safety and how to swim. The course is made possible by a local grant which insures all students in Whitley County (Pierceton included) receive water safety training.
This week is their fourth week of water safety training, and already students are showing signs of strong comprehension and development contrasted to the first week. Responsibility around water is at every level of the training. Before the students ever enter the water, they are responsible to bring their swim suits, get changed on their own, and even shower before enter the swimming area. It probably goes without saying, but that means they also are responsible for drying off after the swim class, and dressing themselves, and remembering all of their items they may have brought to the YMCA.
Once in the pool, YMCA instructors give a roughly 10 minute briefing to the students letting them know what safety exercises they will practice for each specific session. At the beginning of the sessions (week 1) the students were each assessed based upon their comfort level and skill level in the water. Three to four groups were created based on the assessment, and since then, the goal has been to help all students learn at a pace best addressing their skill level.
With this being the fourth week, in the first group, some students who began in life jackets began shedding those and replacing them with pool noodles. The noodles serve as an assist while learning how to properly overhand stroke in the water to propel themselves forward. It also allows them to focus on the concept without the fear of going under water. The second group began focusing on treading water for 15 seconds, followed by floating, a 20 foot swim, and a 20 foot return swim using a backstroke. The third group worked one-on-one with an instructor to help build confidence, and the fourth group (advanced group) began enjoying more free time to swim throughout the pool, which also included learning how to use the dive station to enter the water, and how to find a submerged item under water.
Students will attend the course another 2 weeks, but at any time throughout the course, they may be able to complete the final exam based on an instructors recommendation. But that will not be the end of the excitement for third grade, as many well know, this time of year also ushers in the Shrine Circus, an exciting experience for every third grade student. Because of snow delays and cancellations in 2018-19, this year students from third and fourth grade will attend the circus on January 24th.