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Aquatics director stresses the importance of swim lessons
May 7, 2013 15:21 PM
News Herald Staff

PANAMA CITY — Two-year-old Penelope May was all smiles as her dad, David May, guided her through the water at the Gulf Coast State College pool Monday.

The Mays joined seven other teams as GCSC kicked off its first parent/child swim lesson of the season, which is open to kids aged 6 months to 3 years.

“She just loves the water,” May said of Penelope, who completed an infant survival swim class at the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center last summer. “We’re just trying to get her started on the swimming. We haven’t done any swimming for nine months, so we’re just trying to get her back into it.”

Shepherded by their parents, the children learned to kick their legs by chasing toys and float on their backs while singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

The parent/child class is just one of several Red Cross swim classes offered at GCSC through the end of July.

During the summer months, swim lessons tie up the pool for three to four hours daily and Aquatics Director Carl Kleinschmidt expects to see about 400 kids to complete lessons this year.

Red Cross swim lessons also are taught at the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Bay County, he said.

Kleinschmidt said teaching kids to swim is one of the most important things a parent can do, especially in Florida.

“We have water everywhere here,” Kleinschmidt said. “If you can do swim lessons do them. It doesn’t matter where you go or who does it, just get your kid some swim lessons.”

Kleinschmidt began the class by giving parents his number one rule — never turn your back on a child near the water.

“When the child learns to walk, they’re at their most dangerous,” he said. “With something as enticing as a swimming pool, they’ll want to go in. That would be the biggest thing I can tell a parent is don’t turn your back on them.”

In addition to parent/child classes, GCSC also offers six levels of fundamental swimming classes and an adult beginning swim class.

“Getting swim lessons for the kids is the most important thing,” Kleinschmidt said. “And once they learn, keep it going — don’t just stop at dog paddling.”

For more information about Red Cross swimming lessons, call:

-American Red Cross Central Panhandle Chapter:763-6587

-Gulf Coast State College Aquatics: 872-3832

-Panama City Beach Aquatic Center: 236-2205

-Boys and Girls Club of Bay County: 763-2076

 

Liam Johnson, 6 months, dries off with his mom, Brittany Johnson, after an infant swim class at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Liam Johnson, 6 months, dries off with his mom, Brittany Johnson, after an infant swim class at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Cameron Rasmussen, 21 months, dries off after an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Cameron Rasmussen, 21 months, dries off after an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Jason Pergande, 2, comes up for air after going underwater during an infant swim class with his mom, Jessie, in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Jason Pergande, 2, comes up for air after going underwater during an infant swim class with his mom, Jessie, in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Rich Arston gives his daughter Mazzy, 10 months, a kiss while his wife, Misty, holds her during an infant swim class at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Rich Arston gives his daughter Mazzy, 10 months, a kiss while his wife, Misty, holds her during an infant swim class at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Liam Johnson, 6 months, learns to be comfortable in the water with his mom, Brittany Johnson, as Tonia Perkins, left, instructs the pair during an infant swim class at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Liam Johnson, 6 months, learns to be comfortable in the water with his mom, Brittany Johnson, as Tonia Perkins, left, instructs the pair during an infant swim class at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Jessie Pergande holds her 2-year-old Jason during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Jessie Pergande holds her 2-year-old Jason during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Tonia Perkins holds Cameron Rasmussen, 21 months, while demonstrating how parents can help their children be comfortable in the water in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Tonia Perkins holds Cameron Rasmussen, 21 months, while demonstrating how parents can help their children be comfortable in the water in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Julianna Pope, 2, reaches for a toy while learning how to kick in the water with her mom, Jenna, during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Julianna Pope, 2, reaches for a toy while learning how to kick in the water with her mom, Jenna, during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Liam Johnson, 6 months, plays in the water with his mom, Brittany, in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Liam Johnson, 6 months, plays in the water with his mom, Brittany, in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Tonia Perkins, center, instructs parents during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Tonia Perkins, center, instructs parents during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Cameron Rasmussen, 21 months, splashes with his mom, Amanda, during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Cameron Rasmussen, 21 months, splashes with his mom, Amanda, during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Julianna Pope, 2, splashes with her dad during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Julianna Pope, 2, splashes with her dad during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Jana Ismail, 11 months, plays in the water with her mom, Mona, during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Jana Ismail, 11 months, plays in the water with her mom, Mona, during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Rich Arston smiles at his daughter Mazzy, 10 months, during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Heather Leiphart | The News Herald)

Rich Arston smiles at his daughter Mazzy, 10 months, during an infant swim class in Panama City, Fla. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

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