Brookings-Harbor Water-safety Swim Course

Since 2009, the Rotary Club of Brookings-Harbor has sponsored and taught a water-safety swim course to Kalmiopsis third-grade students

By: Judy May-Lopez

Since 2009, the Rotary Club of Brookings-Harbor has sponsored and taught a water-safety swim course to Kalmiopsis third-grade students – the last week of the school year. The Rotary Club, the volunteer teaching team and the South Coast Aquatics Group, all look forward to these lessons because they know it is a Win-Win-Win for all – a “Win” for the students who will learn water-safety techniques, a “Win” for the B-H Rotary Club, and a “Win” for the community, because they know its importance – and that local students have been saved by these classes.

Susan Lunsford, Rotary Project Chair, worked with a volunteer crew of 16 (Rotarians and friends-of-Rotarians) with every detail and day planned out to help the 92 third-graders learn and enjoy the water-safety lessons.

Volunteers arrived Monday morning to prepare for the five classes, making certain the water was warm and ready for the chilly morning. The first class of students arrived at 9a.m. and were given an introduction to pool rules and water-safety. Students were tested and grouped according to their abilities and water skills. Some students were uncomfortable in the water in the start, but by the end of the first session, and with the help of the volunteers, many were blowing bubbles and floating face-up in the water.

On the second day, students splashed and squealed in excitement as they practiced bobbing and floating on their backs. The bobbing progressed to kicking, then making strokes across wider stretches of water, and for many, jumping into the pool. Lunsford commented, “We have students who were terrified of the water on their first day, and they are already floating on their back – unassisted!  That is huge!

Day three highlighted safety lessons; students are taught to use a variety of common items to rescue potential drowning victims. They learned water jugs, towels, pool noodles and coolers can all be used to save a struggling swimmer. Day four included everything from learning river and water safety rules to individual and group lifesaving techniques. Also, life-jacket safety tips – learning how to safely get in, out and around in life jackets.

Friday was Fun Day, and students floated on their backs, played and jumped from pool sides and diving board-with life jackets on, instructors and volunteers always nearby. “Being a member of the Rotary Club of Brookings-Harbor gives us many opportunities to positively impact our community – and this is definitely one of those experiences,” stated Lunsford.  “Seeing the students bloom and become comfortable in the water is a joy to see! The timing of this training is perfect as students head out for summer fun at the river, beach, lakes, and boating. Rotary friends and members, community volunteers, pool staff, and school staff have all contributed to another successful program.”

The Rotary Club of Brookings-Harbor would like to thank the Friends of Rotary, South Coast Aquatics Group, and the Brookings Harbor School District for their assistance in supporting this life-saving program. If you would like to contribute funds to the Rotary Water-Safety project, please send a check to Rotary, P. O. Box 357, Brookings, Oregon, and specify the funds should go towards the water safety project. Every donation, however small, will help children abandon their fears of the water.

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