“We’ve tried to offer as many lessons as we can” | Pools face rush of swim lessons, staffing shortages

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Pools are seeing an increased interest in swim lessons this summer after many children missed out due to pool closures last summer. The catch is that local pools are trying to make sure they have both the classes and staff to teach them.

Madison Gump from Kingsport Aquatics Center said it’s not just the safety aspect that has parents signing their kids up, it’s the chance to get them out of the house to get some exercise.

“I do believe from our group registration and also our private lessons here, we’ve seen that increase of participation,” Gump said. “Just where people have been cooped up last summer, they haven’t been able to get out of their house, they haven’t been able to do a whole lot.”

The Kingsport Aquatics Center is trying to shuffle staff to cover the added need.

“We’ve tried our best to offer all levels in group lessons. We’ve tried to offer as many lessons as we can,” said Gump. “And then also private lessons, we specifically have just instructors who only teach that whole entire week swim lessons specifically.”

The Kingsport Aquatics Center is still offering private and semi-private lessons. Gump said they have seen an uptick in sign-ups for kids that are around nine or ten years old whose parents are trying to keep their skills up. They normally see the largest amount of sign-ups for kids under the age of five.

“We have had a lot of contact with parents wanting to do swim lessons for their kids because obviously, they missed it last year, and especially at a young age they really need to keep that training going or they’re going to forget it,” said Rachel Evans, Supervisor of the Aquatics Center at the Memorial Park Community Center.

Over at the MPCC in Johnson City, it’s not staffing that’s set them back – it’s COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’ve had a lot of people request swim lessons and call ask for information. Currently, we’re not offering them. We’re just now getting to where we’re opening up offering more things. So we’re gearing up for hopefully July,” said Evans.

Normally the MPCC would offer swim classes in June. They’re currently offering private lessons only.

Evans does have a recommendation if you’re unable to find classes for your child.

“Just get with them in the pool and work with them is the best thing they can do,” Evans said. “Hold them, help them move their arms, talk to them, cause the more repetition you do with them, the more they’re going to learn and get in their brains to continue doing that.”

If you’re wondering if your child is too young for lessons, Gump recommends you start then as early as six months.

“Six months old, they have the immunity built up to where it is safe for them to get into the water,” Gump said. “We actually offer a parent-child class here. And that is offered for six months all the way up to 32 months, and that is where the parent and the child will get into the water. So our instructors will actually not only teach that child but also the parent the safety aspects of the water.”

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