Life-saving class gives low-cost instruction

Summer swim program provides vital lessons to live by


Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

The Pool has created revenue for the college without having swimming or water polo teams since the early 1980s by renting out its use to local high school teams and the community. There will be swimming classes offered during the summer term.

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

The Summer Aquatic Program at Contra Costa College is underway and the Athletic Department has been flooded with parents requesting spots to ensure they and their children learn one of life’s most valuable lessons — swimming.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 deaths per day occur because of drowning. Also, statistics show participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent in children age 1-4.

In progress since March 31, swim instruction is available to all levels of age and experience.

The facility employs a 50-meter Olympic size pool alongside a children’s instructional pool both heated to 80 degrees.

“I work at the El Cerrito Swim Center and my son came here years ago because of the heated pool. It’s also far less expensive,” head instructor at the El Cerrito community gymnastic center Belinda Baker said. “He brought his kids here and now I bring the next generation of our family here.”

The program is directed by swim instructor Jim Ulversoy.

In an area as diverse as the East Bay and San Pablo in particular, it is important that local residents have a low cost opportunity to learn something from a skillful instructor that might one day save their life.

According to a national survey by the University of Memphis and USA Swim Foundation, 70 percent of blacks and 60 percent of Hispanic/Latino children cannot swim.

Also found in the same study, if a parent does not know how to swim, there is only a 13 percent chance that a child in that household will learn to swim.

Lessons are available to anyone 4 years of age or older,, who is at least three feet tall.

“It’s great for the students and great for the community,” Comet Athletic Director John Wade said, “To see the smile on kids’ faces in the summer after getting to swim all day for $2 — it’s the best deal in town.”

Basic swim lessons for all swim levels, beginners and advanced, will be given every 30 minutes. Early lessons are from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Afternoon and evening classes are from 4 until 6:30 p.m.

“The program started 10 years ago in the fall then it extended to spring swimming three or four years ago,” Ulversoy said. “There was no (training) pool in the community and a bond measure made it possible to get the pool built.”

There is also a parent child/toddler swim session offered. It is designed for children from 6 months to 4 years old and parents must accompany children in the water at all times.

Springboard diving is offered for all levels of divers over 8 years old who pass the basic swim test.

Adult lap swim is available at specific times through July 23. Lanes may have to be shared at any time as slow, medium and fast lanes are for people with different speeds.