Students from local fourth grade classes splash around in the pool after eight weeks of learning several skills pertaining to survival in and out of the water.
This week is a "celebration," said Molly Lofton, senior program director for the Tiffin Community YMCA.
Students from the Tiffin City School District and Calvert Catholic Schools participate in the Fourth Grade Swim Program.
PHOTO BY MIKE MASELLA
Danielle Kagy, 9, plugs her nose before her head goes under water as she slides off part of an obstacle course at the YMCA Monday.
The program is funded through the BA Seitz Fund through the Columbus Foundation.
The program runs in the fall or spring, depending on school schedules, and each class runs about 45 minutes.
Students are taught basic swimming skills, self-rescue skills and skills to help someone who has fallen in the water.
"Safety is key," Lofton said.
"The program is confidence building," Lofton said, "Some students in the beginning won't get into the water but by the end of the program they are swimming in the deep end."
Students are divided into six groups based on their skill level. In week one, students are given a pre-test to determine how much they know about pool safety and at the end of the program students are given the same test to see how much they have improved.
"We expect to see extreme improvements in our post-tests," Lofton said.
Students are taught skills including the basic pool rules, personal survival skills, including front and back float, survival floating and treading water; throwing assists, such as a ring buoy; canoe skills, putting on and taking off lifejackets, safely entering water with lifejackets and safely getting into and out of lifejackets; safe reaching assists; and swimming in clothing in case of an accident.
The program began nearly 30 years ago when former principal of Lincoln Elementary, Richard Miller, saw a need for children to learn how to swim.
"This program teaches kids how to keep themselves and others safe," said Louise Duscay, retired elementary physical education teacher.
Being the only physical education teacher at the time, Duscay has been with the program from the very beginning.
"The great amount of improvement I can see in the kids is what this program is all about," Duscay said.
When asked his favorite part of the program, one student said, "Everything."
Another student said, "It is important to learn how to swim."
Most students have never been on a boat and enjoyed canoeing lessons.
One student said, "I loved the canoe, (the lessons) teach you how to float and survive in the water."