CLEARWATER, FL. – Skycrest Elementary School students are trading in their PE tennis shoes and gym clothes for swim goggles and swimsuits to prepare for their new aquatic class at the Long Center, 1501 N Belcher Road.
Students are learning how to swim, tread water and be safe in and around the pool as part of a city partnership with Pinellas County Schools, Clearwater For Youth, Stingray and ION Physical Therapy Network.
“Providing and including water safety classes as part of elementary education curriculum has always been a goal for the Clearwater Parks & Recreation Department,” said Recreation Manager Shaun Beasley. “The challenge for years has been finding a way to transport children from school to the recreation center pools.”
Clearwater for Youth, a local nonprofit organization that provides resources to ensure children can participate in athletic and recreation programs, stepped in and provided the needed funding for the transportation. Children hop on a bus during their regularly scheduled PE time, go to the Long Center for their swim lessons and then return to school for their other courses.
“Drowning is fast, silent, and can happen to anyone,” said Long Center Aquatic Coordinator Jill Sparks. “We want to give these kids the tools they need to be safe in the pool this summer and for the rest of their lives.”
Each student will participate in two weeks of swim lessons with a certified swim instructor and receive a pair of goggles, a swim cap, and a T-shirt sponsored by Stingray and ION Physical Therapy Network. The program will be offered again in May for Belleair Elementary School students.