NEIGHBORS>> Learning to swim
By Sara Greene
Leader staff writer
From the doggie paddle to the butterfly stroke, Cabot Parks and Recreation’s aquatics programs offer swimming lessons for all skill levels.
“I’m estimating we have about 300 children signed up for swimming lessons,” said head swim coach Debbie Skidmore. “We have 120 signed up for the Cabot Piranhas swim team right now.”
The Learn to Swim program starts out with a Mom and Tot course for 4 year olds and their mothers. The course focuses on familiarizing parents and children with swimming and survival skills.
Level I teaches non-swimmers ages 5 and 6 on survival swimming and getting used to the water.
Level II is for the same age group and focuses on learning freestyle swimming and underwater maneuvers.
Level III is for swimmers ages 7 and 8 to develop stroke technique, diving and underwater swimming. Level IV focuses technique, diving and underwater swimming for swimmers age 9 and above.
Level V is for 7 year olds and up. It teaches competitive strokes for recreation and members of the Cabot Piranhas swim team.
Skidmore says teaching swimming is a passion that all five swim coaches share.
“We see so much progress in two months,” said Skidmore.
“The students go from being scared of the water to swimming laps.”
The Cabot Piranhas swim team was started in 1999 and is for children ages 5 to 18.
The program emphasizes learning proper stroke techniques, increasing endurance and having fun. The team has three skill levels, bronze, silver and gold.
The Cabot Piranhas compete in swim meets each weekend culminating with a competition July 29-31 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
To become a Piranha, children under 6 must be able to swim the length of the pool aided by a kickboard.
Children age 7 and 8 must be able to swim the length of the pool. Children age 9 and above must swim the length of the pool twice.
“We really need a bigger pool, we’ve outgrown this one,” Skidmore said.
Skidmore says many swim team members join swim teams in Little Rock to swim year round.
Year-round access to a swimming pool is one of the biggest challenges for swim team members.
“The children get out of shape when they don’t swim in the winter,” Skidmore said.
“Swimming is just as physically demanding as football.”
The Cabot Piranhas’ next swim meet will be at 5 p.m. Friday at the Lonoke Community Center’s pool.