From the classroom to the pool: third graders learn to swim

Feb 28, 2020

Once a week, third graders at Minot Forest get to take a break from the classroom and learn a valuable life skill while having fun at the Gleason Family YMCA pool. 

Each third grade class gets a six-week swimming program, and on Friday, Feb. 28, students in Jennifer Conlon’s class started their first session under the instruction of Danielle Gilmore, Leeandra Booth, and Pam Smith-Paquette. 

Students separated into three groups based on their level of swimming experience, and went through a variety of exercises meant to make them feel more confident in the water. 

Conlon said that the swimming class is beneficial to students because of the team building opportunities, and given the fact that Wareham is surrounded by water, “It’s so important where we live, to have that skill,” of swimming. 

Parent-chaperone Kristen Woodside watched from the bleachers to make sure her daughter Lily and other students were safe. She said that the program is great because it is very hands-on and teaches skills that she might not be able to teach on her own. 

Before the kids got in the water, Gilmore laid down the rules of the pool. She made sure that students knew to walk, not run, around the pool. She also told the kids never to swim alone, and that they shouldn’t jump or dive into the pool, unless they have permission from an instructor. Rough play of any kind is also forbidden in the YMCA pool. 

Once the thirty-minute lesson started, students practiced floating in the water, swimming through hula hoops, and kicking their way across the pool. They also built up their confidence by submerging themselves under water in the shallow end of the pool while instructors watched over them to ensure safety. 

Gilmore said that over the course of six weeks, she typically sees improvements in kids’ confidence, and competence in the water. 

As an incentive, kids who prove their ability to float in the water for ten seconds are allowed to go down the YMCA’s water slide on their last lesson.

She said she enjoys teaching the class because of the students’ enthusiasm. “They want to be here, it’s a great break from the school day,” she said.