The UCF Recreation and Wellness Center has teamed up with the Creative School for Children to help preschoolers dive headfirst into swimming.
Creative School students have the opportunity to be enrolled in two-week classes of swimming lessons taught by certified lifeguards. Sessions are in the morning for a half-hour at the center’s leisure pool, where students kick and paddle their way to safe practices in the pool.
“Our main focus is on safety,” said RWC Facilities and Aquatics coordinator Andrea Snead. “We want them to get comfortable in the water, so we work on fundamentals like pushing water, kicking and blowing bubbles so that if they were to fall in the water they’d be able to float.”
Class sizes have a limit of 15 students and attention is given to the children with a ratio of at least one instructor for every three students. Children are grouped by proficiency level and are required to be 4 or 5 to participate.
The program was developed by Snead along with Creative School director Rhonda Moore. Snead based the lesson plan on a similar program she worked with at Daytona State College several years ago.
All instructors are student lifeguards already employed with the RWC and are hired for the Creative School program based on performance as a lifeguard or status as a certified water safety instructor.
“I didn’t really come from a background of education, but I was a swimmer in high school for four years and team captain, so I have an aquatic background,” said instructor Alex Wood. “I started lifeguarding about two years ago and started lessons with the college crowd after getting my WSI certification.”
Snead said she stresses to her instructors that employing different methods of communication is essential when working with children.
“I’m an example of that,” said instructor Derik Janik. “I was using words like reach and pull – things that adults can understand. But when you’re teaching a child, the word ‘scoop’ becomes a more helpful tool. It helped me to have the kids pretend the pool was a giant bowl of ice cream and to tell them to scoop the ‘ice cream’ and put it in their pockets.”
Instructor Kim Zipoli said: “Through my experience of teaching swim lessons before, this has been the most prepared group of instructors and the best program that I have experienced. I definitely think parents should introduce their children to the water at a young age, because it’s much harder to do at an older age.”
The next swim session for Creative School students will begin Monday, July 9. Swim tuition is $45 per two-week session.
For more information on the Creative School for Children at UCF, visit http://csc.sdes.ucf.edu/. To learn more about services offered by the Recreation and Wellness Center, visit http://rwc.sdes.ucf.edu/.