By Valerie Baldowski
Local parents are taking advantage of summer swimming lessons being offered by the Henry County YMCA.
The lessons, which run through July 24, are held at the pool at the Hampton Inn in McDonough, at 855 Industrial Blvd.
According to Doug Holder, aquatic coordinator for the YMCA, group lessons are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m., to 3:50 p.m. Private and semi-private lessons are also available.
Friday, students were on hand for a 35-minute, beginner-level lesson.
The swim instructor, Brian Garland, lined up several 5-year-old pupils on the side of the pool, and took each child into the pool, one by one.
Once in, each youngster had a chance to paddle across the pool to other side and climb out, allowing another child to take a turn in the water. Some children eagerly slid into the deep end, where the water level was five feet, while others cautiously entered at the shallow end, where the water level was about three feet.
While the children practiced basic swim strokes and skills, such as putting their face in the water, parents watched the lesson from outside the fence surrounding the pool.
Susan Chance was at the pool with her daughter, Kelly, one of the students. Kelly Chance has had swimming lessons previously, according to her mother, so moving through the water was not unfamiliar to her.
"I brought her here in 2007, [and] she had her first lesson," Susan Chance said. "I was in the pool with her."
Friday was the last day for Session II of the lessons, but the Hampton mother said she plans to bring her daughter back on Monday, for the start of the next session.
Taking the time to teach children to swim is important, according to Holder.
Besides being an enjoyable way to cool off, he said young people who can swim are less at risk if they accidentally fall into a pool.
"For one, it makes the parents feel safer when they [their children] are around water," he said. "If they don't have the education on how to swim, then they're not going to make it."
Younger children seem to take to swimming lessons easier than older students, he added, because some adults have difficulty overcoming any fear of the water they may have. "The earlier, the better," said Holder.
Rhonda Hicks, of McDonough, brought her son, Jordan, to the lessons Friday.
"I wanted my son to take swimming lessons because his father and I don't know to swim," Rhonda Hicks said.
She said her son had swimming lessons at a summer camp offered through his day care two years ago, but she wonders how much the child learned from those lessons.
This year's swim sessions taught through the YMCA, she said, are primarily a "refresher course" to ensure her son remembers what he learned before.
"He's learning very well," said Rhonda Hicks. "He can actually move [down] the length of the pool now, which is something he couldn't do when he started."
The YMCA is holding two more swimming-lesson sessions. Session III begins Monday, and runs through July 10. Session IV is July 13-24.