The sun-filled days of summer vacation are made for water play. Pool games and swimming are practically a rite of passage in many area neighborhoods. But splashing and innocent games of Marco Polo can be intimidating if you are a child who doesn’t know how to swim.
Last summer, siblings Nikki and Frankie Cruz were in that very situation. The nine and seven year olds were too afraid to put their faces in the water, let alone go swimming. They were missing out on fun water activities and their mom Lucy was concerned about their safety near water. That was when they learned about the Let’s Swim program.
Let’s Swim offers discounted swimming lessons to underserved families in Livermore. The program is available through a grant from Kaiser Permanente. Nine 30 minute swim lessons normally cost $30/each through the Livermore Area Recreation & Park District, but with the grant funding, the rate is discounted to just $10 per session, opening the program to more families like the Cruzs.
“I never really swam before,” said Nikki. “I really liked my swimming teachers. They gave me a stamp on my hand when I learned something new.” Nikki also says her legs and arms felt stronger after her swimming lessons, where she learned the back, crawl and breast strokes. “They gave me a report card after each group of lessons, showing what I had learned.”
Frankie was only five years old when he began taking lessons. “My favorite part of the swimming lessons was diving for toys at the bottom of the pool. That was fun!” The siblings took several sessions of lessons and by the end of the summer they were able to swim underwater the short length of the pool.
The Cruz family also takes part in the portion of the program that provides recreational swimming sessions at the May Nissen Swim Center in Livermore for a reduced fee; sessions cost only .25 cents per person. Employees at the pool say that some kids collect change all summer just to be able to swim at the reduced rate.
Lucy is grateful her children have learned how to swim and are now comfortable in the water. “Without the discount on the lessons, I wouldn’t have been able to afford them. Now I know my kids are water safe and getting great exercise. They’ve become little fish -- it’s hard to get them out of the pool!”
Click here for additional information on the Let's Swim program.
The Diablo Area Community Benefit Department of Kaiser Permanente provides financial support to local nonprofit and public health and human service organizations that serve vulnerable communities in Central and East Contra Costa County and the Tri-Valley area of Alameda County. Funding priorities include access to health care services, adolescent sexual health, and obesity and overweight programs.