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CCISD third graders trade their backpacks for bathing suits

Posted at 5:32 PM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-11 18:32:13-04

Every school year nearly 4,000 CCISD third graders participate in the Learn to Swim program.

“They’re 45-minute classes so they get a good time in the water,” says Natatorium supervisor Billy McLendon.

The program spans four days teaching students life-saving aquatic skills.

“They like to stand up and keep their head out of the water which drops their feet down, which means now they can’t swim,” says McLendon.

They also learn basic techniques such as floating, strokes and underwater breathing.

“Make them understand that they’re supposed to blow air out when their face is in the water and take a breath when they take their face out of the water,” says McLendon.

Natatorium supervisor Billy McLendon says the goal is to prevent kids from drowning.

“A lot of kids come over that have probably never been in the water,” says McLendon. “Adults don’t know how to swim so they’re afraid to have their kids go to the pool.”

Not knowing how to swim can have severe consequences.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2005 and 2014, more than 3,500 people died annually from accidental drowning in the United States.

That’s about 10 people a day. The CDC says one in five are children under 14.

“We live right here on the coast, we have the beach here, we have the river, we have the lake, backyard pools,” says McLendon.

This is why programs like this one are important, even for kids who know how to swim.

“They still get nervous, they’re little, they still want their life jacket,” says parent Anthony Garza. “They’re going to have them try and use it without their life vest, just with their noodle so hopefully that’ll go good.”

McLendon says by day four students gain confidence and skills to survive a water emergency.

CCISD also provides free after-school swimming classes at the Natatorium.

3rd and 5th grades: Monday – Thursday 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Middle & High School: Monday – Thursday 4:30 to 6 p.m.

For more information email Coach Keith Springer at