Craig kids stay afloat with swimming know-how

Ridgeview Elementary School second-grader Lillybeth Switzler is aided by Sylvia Griffiths during swimming lessons in the Moffat County High School pool. Each of Craig’s elementary schools feature aquatics instruction during the winter for grades one through five.
Andy Bockelman

When the weather gets colder in Northwest Colorado, it’s that time again for the youth of the area to hit the water of the Moffat County High School swimming pool for both fun and educational purposes.

Swim classes began Nov. 13 for Craig’s four elementary schools, with Ridgeview Elementary School students, grades one through five, the first group to make a splash.

Ridgeview, which will transport kids to MCHS through this Thursday, will be followed by fellow elementary school East Dec. 11 to 21, then Sunset Jan. 22 to Feb. 2 and Sandrock March 5 to 15.

Ridgeview’s physical education teacher Shannon Samuelson has been joined by several local volunteers instructing children in the ways of water, including Tom Gilchrist, Steve Tegtman, Sylvia Griffiths and a variety of parents.

“It’s been really smooth thanks to a lot of help in the pool, I’m super lucky to have all these people,” Samuelson said. “We can’t do the program without volunteers.”

Instruction is done through a Red Cross curriculum, which increases in expectations at each grade level. For younger students especially, a slow approach can be best, but it doesn’t take long before first-time swimmers move from a cautious entry into the shallow end to jumping in with energy and taking on increasingly more challenging parts of the pool.

Second-graders Gavin Zulian and Jax Nelson agreed that one of the best parts of being in the pool is simply drifting on their backs in the water, though there’s something else that’s even more of a priority in their minds.

“I have been waiting forever to go off that thing,” Nelson said as he motioned to the diving board.

Zulian said he loved to “do the zombie” at the city pool during the summertime — slowly walking off the board with his arms in front of him before plunging into the water.

Preparation is part of classes as well, Samuelson added, and she has seen students come ready to learn an essential life skill.

“Kids are feeling a lot more comfortable putting their heads in the water,” she said. “A lot of the kids are learning all four strokes or learning to dive in the deep end, so that’s good for them to get that experience and get comfortable.”

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