Aquatic classes available at Rotary pool

Tony Komada, Online Editor

Session two of the swimming lessons offered by the Rotary Community Aquatic Center began on Monday and will continue through July 17.

“Learning how to swim is life changing,” said Gena Bunch-Epperson, Aquatic Facility Supervisor.

Children from 5-12 can sign up for group swimming lessons. Session three registration ends July 24, with classes starting July 27. The fee is $40 for pass holders and $45 for non-pass holders.

The group classes follow the Red Cross Learn to Swim Program, which includes six different levels, Epperson said.

In level one, students get accustomed to the water and begin to learn safety rules. In level two, students learn to tread water, swim on their front and back, and other techniques.

Level three dives into students performing front and back crawls and using rotary breathing to swim more efficiently. Level four elaborates into more techniques, such as shallow diving and breaststroke swimming.

In level five, participants learn survival swimming and how to flip turn while front or backstroking. The sixth and final level helps students refine strokes so they can swim with ease, efficiency, power and smoothness over greater distances.

“Some say they’re great swimmers, but they aren’t efficient,” Epperson said.

Level six also opens up the training to more advanced classes, such as junior lifeguard training.

The Rotary pool has several other class options, such as mom/infant, mom/tot, lifeguard training and private classes.

The mom/infant and mom/tot classes allow younger children to feel comfortable and safe in the water, while private classes are usually done with adult students who want to improve their swimming efficiency, be safe in the water or learn any other specific swimming skill.

Mom/infant and mom/tot classes may be signed up for by July 24, with classes also starting up July 27. Private classes may be scheduled any time.

Epperson said it is important for children to get comfortable with the water early, which can be done safely at in the facility’s zero depth pool alongside the lifeguards on duty.

Other aquatic programs will be available this summer as well, such as aqua aerobics, aqua Zumba, adult stroke development, swim club and swim team prep.

Epperson said she had an unusually difficult time hiring staff this year.

She went through three rounds of hiring, while she usually gets all her staff at once at the beginning of the season. Of the 13 she hired initially, eight had to leave.

Guards are continuously trained at the Rotary pool. Guards go through one training session before their shift along with CPR practice, which makes saving a swimmer’s life an automatic action for the lifeguards.

Rotary pool lifeguards only had to rescue about 10 swimmers in 2014. Epperson said this is because they practice preventative scanning to make sure no swimmers look like they are struggling.

Epperson said lifeguards from the Rotary pool have gone on to become Navy Seals, join the Coast Guard and overall have transformed from non-efficient swimmers to skillful life savers.

The Rotary pool is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, which is subject to daily adjustments as a result of threatening weather, facility needs and attendance. The pool will close on August 16. The Rotary Community Aquatic Center is located at 920 17th St. in Charleston.

The average number of guests at the pool is about 400, with 600-700 showing up for a typical hot weekend. The capacity of the Rotary pool is 1,000 persons.

Epperson said the Rotary Community Aquatic Center is a family oriented facility that stresses appropriate language and behavior by all guests.

Tony Komada can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].