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New Berlin, NY 13411
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Summer Swim Program Promotes Safety

It might be summer, but fun-filled learning is underway at Unadilla Valley Central School.

Sixty-nine students are taking lessons through the school district’s summer swim program. The lessons run through the month of July and students range in age from 4 ½ to their mid-teens.

“We follow the Red Cross swimming skill sheets,” said physical education teacher and swim coordinator Bill Holdrege.

The skill sheets are a way to assess the abilities of the young swimmers as they advance from beginner levels to higher levels.

Knowing how to swim is a potentially life-saving skill, but the program doesn’t just focus on swimming, according to Holdrege.

Students also learn how to float, put on a life jacket and combat hypothermia. These are important skills because boating accidents are a major cause of drowning death.

The lifeguards, who teach the lessons and ensure the safety of the children, are a mix of current and former high school students working part-time. The swimming lessons often generate future lifeguards who go on to teach the lessons. That real-world experience has often helped students as they enter the workforce.

“I’ve written letters of recommendation for a lot of these kids who have graduated high school,” Holdrege said. “It benefits us all around. I think the program is fantastic.”

The classes run four days a week in three, 60-minute time slots. The 69 students are divvied up between the three sessions. Many parents stay and watch the lessons and are often impressed at how quickly their children become more comfortable in the water, Holdredge said.

“Parents love to see the progress,” he added.

The pool is a key feature at Unadilla Valley Central School and swimming is an elective at the high school level. The summer swimming program is funded by the towns within the school district. The building project approved by voters this spring includes a needed upgraded to the air filtration system, according to Holdredge.

UV Lifeguards are seen below before the start of a lesson.

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