This article was originally published in the Chronicle Herald's weekly community papers and has been republished here with their permission.
One of the great things about living in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is that you are never far from a beach. Even better is that the HRM offers free swimming lessons at all municipal beaches and the Halifax Common outdoor pool each summer; and provides lifeguards at all municipal beaches, outdoor pools, and spray pools starting June 30.
Jen Nagle is the Aquatic Specialist with HRM’s Parks & Recreation Department and she says swimming is a skill all children should have.
“We offer free lessons so that everyone has access to learn how to swim,” she explains, “In a province surrounded by water knowing how to swim is a great skill to have and it also helps encourage an active lifestyle.”
Christina Girard of Dartmouth agrees. She has four daughters between the ages of six and twelve and all of them have taken advantage of the free lessons for the last two years. She intends to enroll them for lessons again this summer.
“As far as I am concerned learning to swim is a necessary part of life,” she says, “Although I do live on a lake, I think you should learn to swim no matter where you live as you never know when you may have to swim.”
She wants all of her daughters to become strong swimmers and thinks it would be great if someday they even became lifeguards.
“It is such a great opportunity that HRM has given,” Girard says, “We thoroughly enjoyed the lessons.”
There are four sessions offered throughout the summer starting on July 1 and there are options for children between the ages of three and sixteen, as well as leadership levels of Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross, National Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor.
The city uses the Red Cross Swim Kids program, which is the same program used at the pools.
“Everyone receives a report card at the end of the session highlighting their strengths and skills that can use additional development, and those who complete the level do receive a badge,” Nagle says.
Sancia Knorr of Eastern Passage has registered her two children in the swim lessons last year and plans to again this summer.
“I learned to swim from lessons growing up and had fun at the same time and want them to have that experience as well,” Knorr says, “Both of my children enjoyed the lessons, my five year old son actually learned to swim quickly through the course of a few sessions and was very proud of himself. My seven-year-old daughter also became braver and more confident in her abilities.”
Registration for the first two sessions opens at 10:00am on Wednesday, June 10; registration for the last two sessions opens on July 8. Registration will continue until all classes are filled.
Residents can register in one of three ways: by phone at 902-490-6666; in person at any municipally operated recreation centre in the HRM; or online using the Rec Connect service at www.halifax.ca/rec/ProgramsandActivities.php and choosing Beaches.