Sign up starting Wednesday to Learn to Swim

Published 3:09 pm Sunday, May 13, 2018

When she was 4 years old, Melanie Graves participated in the Learn to Swim Class at City Pool for the first time.

It quickly became an annual summer event.

“It gave me a lot of strength,” she said. “I was the smallest one in my class, but it helped with my endurance in the water.”

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

Graves is 22 years old now, and still participating in the program — as a teacher. The City Pool lifeguard and certified American Red Cross water safety instructor is one of the instructors for this summer’s Learn to Swim program. Registration for the program begins this week at City Pool, and classes start in June.

Learn to Swim offers low-cost lessons for children as young as 3. The program focuses on basic swimming fundamentals, but has six levels that get progressively more advanced. It is designed for adults as well as children.

“We love teaching them how to do something that can eventually save their lives. Confidence is one big thing it gives them,” Graves said.

The first day of registration is Wednesday at City Pool.

Sign-up will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and at the same times Thursday and Friday. A final registration day will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.

The cost of the program is $15 for 10 lessons that last about 45 minutes each. The sessions will run from June 4-15; June 25 to July 6; and July 16-27, with class times scheduled throughout the day.

Classes are limited to eight students apiece and beginners’ classes typically fill up fast, so early registration is encouraged.

Payment must also be made at registration, by cash or check only.

“The Level 1 and preschool classes fill up quickly. We have to limit it because we have to have the correct number of instructors and lifeguards,” said Sylvia Gurtowski, the manager of City Pool and director of the Learn to Swim program.

Gurtowski added that swimmers of all ages have a place in the program.

“Anybody 3 years old to 133 is welcome. If they’re 134 and can get in the water, we’ll teach them, too,” she said with a laugh.

Gurtowski has been the manager at City Pool for 21 years, and has overseen the Learn to Swim program for all of them. She said it helped teach her to swim as a child — the cost was $1 back then — and was proud to keep it going as a way to teach the next generation of children the same lessons.

“Swimming is a life skill. It can be a life-saving skill. It’s important to swim, especially with all the water we have around Vicksburg. So they need that skill to be able to enjoy themselves fully,” Gurtowski said.

“This is one of my pride and joys. I’m honored to be able to offer this to people, and we have a staff that wants to do this. It’s not a job to them.”

City Pool will open to the public for the summer on Memorial Day, May 28.

Gurtowski said a couple of schedule tweaks are on tap for this season, mainly the addition of designated swim times for senior citizens on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and a “Tot Time” swim period for young children and parents on Wednesday night.

“We’ll have that in the baby pool. No adults will be allowed in unless accompanied by a child 7 and under,” Gurtowski said.

Gurtowski is also looking for lifeguards to work part-time during the summer.

Candidates must have a Red Cross lifeguard certification. Those interested can call her at City Pool at 601-634-4516.

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