Getting into the swim of things

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Get Active at the RECC, By Nick Sharpe

Swimming instruction at the RECC starts as early as four-months-old

The Rath Eastlink Community Centre offers swimming instruction for every age group, from infants to adults, as well as courses to become a lifeguard or even a swimming instructor yourself.

Remember the days when learning to swim meant being tossed into a lake and being told to fend for yourself? I agree the best way to learn is by ‘doing’, but when it comes to swimming and water safety skills, we at the RECC are a little more elaborate than the old ‘live or die’ teaching philosophy!

From early childhood swimming lessons to Water Safety Instructor Certification, we offer it all at the RECC. To give you a better idea of what we can provide, let me take you on a journey.

Your baby boy is born (he’s beautiful, by the way!). It’s only a short four months of sleepless nights before you enrol him in his first swimming lessons at the RECC. He starts with the Red Cross Preschool Program for babes with an eight-session lesson that uses songs, games and introductory swimming skills to make him comfortable and happy in the water. 

Suddenly he’s three-years-old — and look, he’s floating all by himself! He spends the next couple of years in the Preschool Program, advancing through the progressive levels, building on his comfort level in the water.

Now he’s six-years-old — and look how fast he’s growing! He can swim five metres on his front and back, perform dolphin kicks and is starting to work on rhythmic breathing. He’s now ready to advance to the Swim Kids Program. This program ranges through levels one to 10 and he starts at level three since he has gained the necessary skills from the Preschool Program.

Let’s jump ahead to 12-years-old. Where does the time go? Now your little boy has completed all 10 levels of Swim Kids. He knows how to make safe decisions in and around water, he’s fast, he can swim long distances and he’s getting better at competitive and survival strokes.

He isn’t quite old enough to advance to the Lifeguard Certification, but he’s a keen swimmer and wants to keep working on his skills, so he registers in Junior Lifeguards. Here he develops problem-solving and decision-making skills, learns CPR and develops Water Smart® confidence and the lifesaving skills needed to be his own personal lifeguard.

He turns 13 and is ready for the big leagues! He’s on the road to becoming a certified lifeguard. He starts by taking Bronze Medallion, whichteaches an understanding of the lifesaving principles embodied in the four components of water rescue education: judgment, knowledge, skill and fitness. Then he’s on to Bronze Cross, which introduces safe supervision in aquatic facilities.

He’s driving already? That’s right, he’s 16-years-old and completes the National Lifeguard/Standard First Aid with AED Certification, which is his last step in becoming a national certified lifeguard! Now he’s employed at the RECC as a lifeguard, working evenings and weekends and gaining independence.

But he’s not done there. He likes being a lifeguard, but he wants to teach kids how to swim like he was once taught (it doesn’t seem that long ago does it?). So he registers to become a certified water safety instructor. First taking the Assistant Water Safety Instructor course, consisting of more than 40 hours of training/teaching, he learns the foundation of instructional skills, including teaching methods, learning styles, physical principles, progressions, communication, safety supervision and feedback.

When he finishes that he continues on to the last step, the Water Safety Instructor Course, where he learns instructional emergency response skills, stroke development, drills and corrective strategies, as well as Red Cross Swim Preschool and Swim Kids Instruction.

Now he’s off to university. Sad, I know, but hey, he’ll be back to do laundry and take all the groceries from your cupboards! And as a bonus, because the courses he took at the RECC are nationally known, he gets to work as a lifeguard and teach swimming lessons to kids while he works on getting his degree.

Every story needs a happy ending. So let’s say at this point you’ve retired and now enjoy each winter in your beautiful Florida home. Enjoy the weather!

Nick Sharpe is the marketing and major events coordinator at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro. You can reach him at


Organizations: Rath Eastlink Community Centre, National Lifeguard/Standard First Aid

Geographic location: Florida, Truro

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