Learn to Swim Class can help save a life — yours

Published 7:50 am Thursday, May 10, 2018

Once upon a time, as a younger man, I joined my high school swim team and quickly discovered there was a big difference between competitive swimming and fun time splashy-splashy swimming.
The former can be grueling and intense, the latter refreshing and enjoyable.

I was ill prepared for the rigors of a swim team, but with a good and patient coach eventually became a capable swimmer. It’s a life skill that remains in my toolbox to this day, and even if I haven’t been in a pool in a few years I feel confident I could jump in and feel right at home instantly.

Next week, City Pool will offer the opportunity for Vicksburg residents to earn that same life skill for the cost of lunch. Registration for the annual Learn to Swim Class begins Wednesday and continues through May 19. For a nominal fee of $15, people of all ages get 10 lessons that cover the basics.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The classes are the perfect way to teach children to swim, but are also a great introduction for adults who never learned or who want to get a little bit better at it. Lessons progress through various skill levels.

As its lead instructor and City Pool manager Sylvia Gurtowski often points out, the basic goal is to teach people how not to drown, and to be able to swim well enough to get to the side of the pool or back to the boat if they fall in.

About 4,000 people drown in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Louisiana and Mississippi ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in accidental drownings in 2017. A basic knowledge of how to tread water, swim short distances, and be comfortable in the water could have prevented some of those.

So, next week, head out to City Pool and sign up for the Learn to Swim Class. Commit to the small time investment it’ll take to save a life — possibly your own.

Registration for the classes runs May 16-18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. Another sign-up session is set for May 19, from 10 a.m. to noon. Payment can be made by cash or check only and is due at the time of registration. Classes, especially those for small children, fill up fast so early registration is encouraged.

The classes themselves will begin June 4 and continue through July.

Be safe out there, and remember that it’s a lot easier to be safe if you have the tools to do so.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor at The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest