Program Chairs: Lion Laura Anthony & Leslie Franzen
The dates this year are: July 8-11 and 15-18 at the Camp Casey Pool from 4-7 pm.
The Club has been providing swimming lessons for the children of Whidbey Island for over 50 years! This is one of our longest community service projects and has become an important tradition in our Club and the community. Every year we train between 100-200 young people to be safe swimmers, so important when you live on an island! We are now teaching children whose parents went through our swim program and many of our teen-age instructors learned to swim with the Lions when they were young!
Pool watchers help with pool safety, i.e. enforcing the no-running and no-pets rule, and gently guiding parents away from the pool to behind the guard rail. This also ensures we are good pool stewards so we will be invited back to the pool next year! The Lions also provide healthy snacks (muffins, juice, fruit, granola bars) for the swim instructors who are in the pool all morning. If you are able to provide some snacks for one of the swim days, please let her know and “save the dates” of the lessons so you can sign up to be a pool watcher. Let’s all work together to train another batch of water-safe kids!
Some 50+ years ago….
According to the achieves at the Whidbey News Times (then the Island County Times), the swim program began with the slogan “Let’s Waterproof Coupeville!” by the PreSchool PTA in the spring of 1959.
The members of the PTA (as it was known then) set about raising $300 to pay for the program and Jack Engstrom headed the Lion’s effort to find a place and make it safe for the lessons. By mid July the ‘ole’ swimmin’ hole” at the Keystone Spit was ready. Formerly it supplied gravel to Fort Casey and buildings in Seattle.
Coupeville Lions dragged out submerged logs, built changing rooms and bathrooms, set up buoys and lane ropes, and the lessons were underway. Classes ran for 6 weeks in three separate groups beginner, intermediate, to advanced.
By the end of July, the first “Achievement Day” demonstrations gave proud parent a look at their now mostly “waterproofed” kids. The joint effort of the PTA and Lions was successful from the beginning; upwards of 10,000 lessons have been given and no one has been lost, but several were sunburned.