JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Swimming instructor Tammy Whittington, right, talks with Jerome Swanson as he slips on a pair of swimming goggles during a lesson in the pool underneath the Natchez Senior Center on Wednesday afternoon.
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Swimming instructor Tammy Whittington, right, talks with Jerome Swanson as he slips on a pair of swimming goggles during a lesson in the pool underneath the Natchez Senior Center on Wednesday afternoon.

Swimming lessons show safety, fun in the water for participants

Published 12:01am Tuesday, June 11, 2013

NATCHEZ — As the hot and humid summer weather returns to the Miss-Lou, a number of young swimmers are taking refuge under the cool waves in the pool at the Natchez Senior Center.

For approximately five years now, the City of Natchez has contracted with Natchez Swimming Association head coach Tammy Whittington to lead swimming lessons for children in the pool in the basement of the senior center.

The youngest swimmers in her classes are 5 and 6 years old, the oldest perhaps in their teens.

The lessons learned range from simply standing in the water, holding one’s breath, floating and learning different swimming strokes.

No matter their age, Whittington said she takes pride in watching each swimmer improve upon their skills over their time beneath the waves, especially those who might be less than excited to take part on their first day.

“My favorite thing about leading these lessons is seeing someone that totally can’t swim learn how to,” Whittington said.

Whittington said that each swimmer, regardless of their age or underwater experience, could improve during the lessons.

“It depends on the child,” Whittington said. “Everybody is different.

“(For) some people it’s awesome if they get in and are comfortable just walking around on the first day.”

For Natchez resident MaDora Wallace, she has enjoyed getting a full report from her grandson Terrace Bindon at the end of each lesson.

Wallace, who never took lessons when she was younger, said she hoped that time in the pool will help her grandson to comfortable and confident whenever he has the chance to swim in the future.

“I think it’s very important for every kid to learn how to swim, so that they won’t be afraid of the water,” Wallace said. “And I think they should start swimming as young as they can.”

Trinity Miller, 9, one of the dozens of youngsters taking part in the lessons, said she has learned a lot of things, but one thing stands out above the rest.

“We’ve learned the big-arm stroke, the superman and how to float,” Miller said. “But I just like to go underwater.”

Whittington said her hope is that the individual attention given during the lessons helps children overcome any fears they may have about swimming, or even water itself.

“Some children’s parents have scared them into thinking that water is bad,” Whittington said.

“Water is fun, you just have to be safe. My goal is to teach them water safety.”

Whittington hopes that the lessons she leads at the Natchez Senior Center are just the beginning of many long lives spent in the water.

“If they can’t practice what I teach them, it’s like teaching someone to read and never giving them a book,” Whittington said.

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