OCEAN PARK - Terri Chappell, in her 59th year of training swimmers, cautions 33 Long Beach fifth graders, "Don't go out in the ocean to above your knees here on the Peninsula." She then goes on to explain about rip tides, sneaker waves and the possibility of how a log or other drifting debris could be a hazard when swimming or playing in the ocean. "The water is cold and hypothermia is a danger," Chappell warns.
Then the kids hit the water at the Dunes Pool located just south of Ocean Park Friday for their sixth and final swimming and safety lesson of the year. Doug Knutzen is the leader and generous sponsor of the program that teaches almost 70 local fifth graders to swim and about water safety. The group from Ocean Park finished their two-week and six-lesson course in March and Long Beach participated in May.
Other instructors include Andrea Mack, Cindy Keyes and Linda Hinde. The young swimmers are divided according to their skill levels into beginners, intermediate and advanced classes. The beginners work on such things as getting their head in the water and learning to kick by using a kick board for support. Advanced swimmers work on endurance swimming by doing 10 laps on their backs and 10 using freestyle strokes and they enjoy trying new and challenging dives at the deep end of the pool.
Following the instruction there is free time. Chappell says smiling, "The kids look beat after the endurance swimming, but when there is free time they are suddenly energized again."
Chappell ends her instruction by telling the young swimmers, "Never turn your back on the ocean. As beautiful as the beach and ocean are, it can be dangerous." Each youngster received a brochure on beach safety and also a listing of when the Dunes Pool is open for family swim and open swim sessions. She concludes, "Water safety is our main objective. We would rather teach everyone how to be safe than to have to come to their rescue."
Other activities at the Dunes Pool include adult lap swims, water exercise class, arthritis class, open swim, adult swim and family swim times. For more information about the Dunes Pool call 665-5542. To support the PCTRT's program, you can send a donation to Doug Knutzen, P.O. Box K, Seaview, WA 98644. For more information about becoming a volunteer rescue swimmer for PCTRT call 360-244-2720.