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Valley Journals

New swim lessons at Liberty Park pool bring parent and child together

May 09, 2018 03:43PM ● By Lori Gillespie

Josh Reusser, Fairmont Aquatics Center program director, talks about the new summer learn to swim program at Liberty Park outdoor pool. (Lori Gillespie/City Journals)

By Lori Gillespie| l.gillespie@mycityjournals.com

A study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation shows that 79 percent of kids in households earning less than $50,000 per year have little to no swimming ability and the current lesson method isn’t conducive to teaching the kids how to swim quickly. Josh Reusser, aquatics program director at the Fairmont Aquatics Center has a new swim program that he hopes will fix that problem. 

“This program is aimed at everyone who doesn’t know how to swim and wants to learn,” said Reusser. For decades, swim lessons have been structured the same. The actual time during a regular swim lesson that a kid is practicing swimming is too small to learn properly.

“If you take a 30-minute group swim lesson, you automatically take away six minutes to get everyone situated and listening, you are left with 24 minutes.  If there are four kids in the class, that leaves only six minutes of time for each kid. Over the weeks of swim session that’s only 48 minutes of instruction time a month. Not even close to the 20 hours you need to learn.”

Reusser started a swim program at Northwest Rec Center (1250 Clark Avenue) a few years ago that encouraged parents to get in the water with their kids. As he watched the kids who had parents in the water with them, they got one-on-one time during the lesson and were engaged the whole time practicing their swim skills. The participants of that program were encouraged to stay after the actual lesson or come back during the week and continue to work on their newly acquired skills.

“Not practicing outside of class makes it really hard to progress through the lessons,” added Reusser.

Based on his observations from the previous program, Reusser has created a program that will kick off this summer at Liberty Park outdoor pool engaging both parents and kids. The program will collect data about how quickly the kids are progressing through the lessons, which kids are taking advantage of the extra practice time, and hopefully, by the end of the summer, he will be able to say, “Yes this works!”  The information Reusser gathers will be presented at the NRPA (National Recreation and Park Association) in September.

“I’ve seen it work, I just need the data,” he said. In order for the data to be robust, they need to have as many kids they can in lessons this summer. 

The program will begin in June, the week after the Salt Lake School District is done for the summer. It is open to kids of all ages with their parents. For families with more than one child, Reusser plans to have child care available so the parents can work with each of their children individually. Registration will open Memorial Day weekend. Session blocks will be held during the day and in the evening in order to accommodate the needs of the community.

“Our hope is that we can get the kids the basics of learning how to swim in one summer,” he said.

“The classes will be held at Liberty Park pool and each block will have three to four instructors,” Reusser added. “The instructors will give a demonstration to the parents and show them how to teach their children that skill. The parents will then work one on one with their kids while the instructors go around and give feedback and more individual instructions. The purpose is to make 100 percent of the lesson actual learning time.”

Lessons will be 40 minutes and will then allow for an additional 20 minutes of pool time for the parents and kids to practice. Participants will also receive passes to come to the pool at other times during the week to practice.

“Our hope that instead of going session to session to session in order to jump up to the next swimming level, we will be able to jump from one level to the next after only one or two weeks,” said Reusser.

If you are interested in participating in the program, visit the website at slco.org/liberty-park-pool.