Swimming lessons teach more than just breaststroke

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Few things make for a more fun summer day than hitting up a swimming pool for a few hours of cooling down on a hot day.

Swimming is fun for everyone, but in order to swim one must learn how to swim.

Not only can swimming be fun, it can also save lives.

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No one knows that better than Be&8217;Lon Jones, who has been putting on swimming lessons all summer.

&8220;I think (learning to swim) is very valuable,&8221; said Jones, who has been teaching swimming lessons for eight years now. &8220;You can just look at Katrina, and so many of the people who came here said they had family that if they had just known how to swim they would have been OK.&8221;

Jones is providing those lessons at the home of her stepmother, Emma Anderson, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. She acknowledged that she would prefer a better venue.

&8220;I&8217;ve been doing this for over eight years now,&8221; she said. &8220;We used to do it over at Duncan Park, but that&8217;s obviously closed down now. We carried it over with senior citizens, and this year we decided it was time to open it up to anyone. Since the city gives us nowhere to do it, Emma Anderson allowed us to do it here, and that was very gracious of her. I&8217;m a certified life guard, and I&8217;ve got two other certified lifeguards working with me.&8221;

The two lifeguards working with Jones are Tyshika Rodgers and Aisha Sanders.

While safety is obviously a big issue in swimming, Jones also realizes that learning to swim can be a huge boost of confidence for a young person.

&8220;That&8217;s what happened with my 3-year-old (student),&8221; Jones said. &8220;She came out here and kind of learned how, and then she turned into another teacher. She&8217;s been showing people how to do things since about the second week she was here.&8221;


3-year-old, Ebony Travillon, said she had a great time during the camp.

&8220;I had a lot of fun,&8221; she said. &8220;I learned how to swim here. I like swimming.&8221;

Another student, Rosekita Johnson, who has Down Syndrome, said she had greatly benefited from her time at the camp.

&8220;I started in June,&8221; she said. &8220;I&8217;ve learned how to kick, stroke and slide. I feel like I can swim now.&8221;

Jones said the swimming lessons had been a huge success all summer.

&8220;We&8217;ve been doing this every week this summer since May 29,&8221; she said. &8220;We&8217;ve averaged around 40 students in every session. We&8217;re going to step up the program next year. We&8217;re going to have to do more until we get a new swimming pool. I think this shows the city that a pool is needed.&8221;