The Summer Swimmers program typically takes place for two weeks each summer at Stevens Pond in Liberty. The program was started in 2011 and first came to Liberty in 2013 It has since been taken over by Kat Newcombe, a former volunteer for the program. Kat has been a certified lifeguard since 2011, and a certified swim instructor since 2012. When Kat took over the program, her mother, Darlene Newcombe, joined as a volunteer. Darlene is a former lifeguard and swim instructor.
The Summer Swimmers program allows children from 6 months to 8th grade to learn the basic skills needed to be safe while having fun in the water. Any child over 6 months who is not yet able to participate in traditional lessons has the opportunity to take parent-child lessons. The parents are in the water with these children, helping them learn the basics of water safety in the arms of someone they trust and under the careful guidance of a swim teacher. Children who are ready for traditional swim lessons are placed in a level between 1 and 6. Level 1 features learning to float and bob under water, and Level 6 features swimming strokes, such as the butterfly and the back crawl, for greater distances.
We find that it takes students between one and three summers to graduate from a level depending on the amount of time they spend practicing outside of lessons and their physical development. Levels 5 and 6 also take part in a drown-proofing workshop where we teach them to use clothing as flotation devices in case they end up in the water fully clothed. The students in the lower classes take part in a life jacket workshop in which we teach them how to safely use a life jacket in an aquatic emergency. We also discuss the proper fit and use of life jackets with the parents to ensure that the children are wearing the correct jacket for their size. Regardless of what level students are in, they learn potentially life-saving skills each day they participate in lessons. Even something as simple as learning to float can be the difference between a scary moment at the beach and a tragedy. Bringing these skills to local families is our passion, and we look forward to continuing this tradition.