This year’s Harker Summer Aquatic Program promises to be a hit with both kids and parents alike. The offerings include swim lessons, free swim and a swim camp. About a third of the participants are Harker students, with the rest hearing about our program through Parents magazine and word of mouth.
The staff ranges from former collegiate water polo players and swimmers, to Harker alums and P.E. teachers. The camp’s director, Melissa Dondero, has been working with Harker summer programs since 1999 and has been in love with water almost her entire life. Her staff is made up of three swim teachers and one lifeguard, with two additional swim teachers in training. Dondero really “likes working with the staff we have … they are fantastic people.”
Swim lessons are 30 minutes and are scheduled a week at a time. Students can choose individual, semi-private or group lessons. The lessons aren’t all work though. Leonard Wong, Gr. 5, said that his favorite part is “having my free time and playing in the water.” He added that “swimming [lessons are] also good. My mom says I’m getting a lot of exercise.”
The swim camp is a two-week program aimed at middle school students and focuses on fitness and water safety. It includes physical training, classroom learning and skills instruction.
The physical training segment is comprised of a combination of fitness and strength training. These activities are done on the field as well as in the pool and help to promote exercise and overall physical fitness.
In the classroom the kids learn part of the American Red Cross GuardStart program, which focuses on topics such as responding in an emergency and the prevention of aquatic accidents. Dondero explained that the camp “covers CPR and first aid stuff that focuses on skills for kids rather than the general, more adult CPR classes.”
After doing a swim workout at the pool, students are given an opportunity to practice lifeguard skills. This helps them remember the skills they have learned.
The free swim portion of the program is offered to other groups of students using the upper school campus. The English Language Institute students, for example, are able to free swim at the pool as part of their program. Between 40 to 75 students take part. Kids participating in the soccer clinics are allowed to free swim in the afternoon as well.
There is also a group of students who come from the Bucknall campus to use the pool for water polo. Isis Chu, Gr. 6, explained that on a typical day, “We do some shots and drills and we swim back and forth.” When asked about her coach she exclaimed, “Mr. Ted [Ujifusa] is really awesome!”
When asked about her favorite part of the program Dondero said, “We run a very nurturing program where children progress at their own rate. There is no forcing of any kind of activity….we just want to see the swimmers have a ton of fun learning how to swim.” Prorams run through Aug. 6. See our Swimming Program page for details!