LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) It starts with a test.
“We tested everybody," Aquatic Director for the Lexington City Pool Leslie Ayers said. "Just a little backfloat to make sure they have water safety skills. And then we were able to identify the children that really needed some attention, that maybe were at risk of drowning.”
This is a physical education course with a serious purpose.
“To make it so that, if they fall out of a boat someplace or fall off a dock, they’re not going to panic and drown,” Ayers said.
“We have a goal that every kid learns to swim and bike by the time they leave Maury River in the eighth grade," said Vicki Black, a PE Teacher at Maury River Middle School. "So, right now, we’re trying to identify the sixth graders that cannot bike and cannot swim with this.”
And for the kids that can swim, there's basic lessons in water polo.
“The water polo just kind of fits into it and gives the kids that already can swim the opportunity to find another activity that they might like to do when they get older,” Black said.
They say that 20 to 25 sixth graders can’t swim well or at all each year, making this testing and course – and the grant that funds it – important for a surprisingly large number of students.
“Sometimes people just don’t think about," Ayers said. "For a child that doesn’t know how to swim, what that limits them, in terms of camps, or vacations, or just any kind of recreation – there’s so much recreation that’s around the water, and if you don’t know how to swim, that’s a real problem.”
A problem they hope to solve.