You walk in, it’s hot, humid, and loud. You see the chlorine filled blue water and kids waiting eagerly on the bench. The YWCA has created their first partnership with AMS. Students who are in the swim club can walk over to YWCA during club times on Tuesday and Thursday and learn to swim. The club is for students who would not normally have an opportunity to learn how to swim in their daily lives. “We want all children to learn how to swim”, Lifeguard Valinda says. Valinda grew up in Florida and has been swimming all of her life, she wants other kids to experience what she did. “We can save one life” Valinda says, “teaching these kids to swim will save many”.
The CEO of the YWCA, Beth Maczka, went to City Council and got the grant to do this swim program. The YWCA provides swimsuits and goggles to kids who don't have access to them at home. Currently the program has a student to adult ratio of 3:1, there are 9 kids participating in this club and they split into ability groups. Swimmers work on breathing exercises, basic swim skills and how to be safe while swimming. Swim coaches work hard to give specific instructions and lots of demonstrations.
Swimmers warm up first and then get to have fun jumping off the diving board. The club is currently made up of all boys and lasts for 45 minutes. The boys will continue until Spring and then the boys and girls will switch out. One student says “My favorite part is getting to jump off the diving board”. Another one says “I like getting to learn how to swim”. A parent of one of the students says “My son loves to swim, when I found out that he was doing this program I thought it was amazing, he has never had swim lessons before, when he joined this program it was his first time ever learning to swim.” The YWCA thrives to make important things like swimming possible to people who would not have a chance to do it otherwise.
One of the swim coaches, Brooks Wallace, says “I love helping with this program because I like to see kids improve. Swimming is an important life skill in my opinion.” The YWCA hopes that Asheville Middle School will continue their partnership together, teaching kids to swim.
Story by Kate Buys and Ginger Hanlon