H-ARROYO GRANDE

Feb 14, 2012 2:56 AM by Ariel Wesler

Swim school offers free lessons for Oceano kids

More than two dozen kids from Oceano Elementary School are learning how to swim for free. The 5 Cities Swim School in Arroyo Grande is giving free lessons to 25 children whose parents cannot afford them. The goal is to make sure the kids are water safe.

Instructors say the kids seem to be catching on quickly. The 5 Cities Swim School received a $3,000 grant this year, enough money to award full scholarships for the first time.

Kids from Oceano Elementary are kicking off their first swim lessons and it's all free of charge.

"They really can't afford swimming and now they can come in a get a full month of swim lessons for no cost," said Jeffrey Purchin, Owner of 5 Cities Swim School.

That's eight free lessons for the youngsters, ages 3 to 13.

"I learned how to swim like Superman," said 8-year-old Noe Vasquez.

"If we can teach people how to be balanced in the water, that's a Superman glide, then we can teach all the rest of the skills, kicking, arms, and all that go hand in hand," said Swim Instructor Mik Foley.

While it may seem like fun and games, instructors say these are teaching more than just swim lessons. They're giving kids survival skills.

Statistics show drowning is the leading cause of the death for children ages 5 and under.

"We've got to make sure everyone on the Central Coast, children, adults are water safe," Purchin said.

Instructors work with the kids to help them feel comfortable in the water and get over their fears, important when you live on the Central Coast.

"Not one of them had water experience at all, but most of them live within a mile and a half of the beach," Foley said.

Each class lasts about a half hour but the hope is the knowledge the kids gain will last a lifetime.

"If they get into any kind of body of water, they can get out, turn their back, get some breath, and get to the side and out," Purchin said.

A little water wisdom making a big splash.

Those eight lessons are a $120 value. The swim school received the grant from the "Make a Splash Foundation," which is run by the group USA Swimming.

The 5 Cities Swim School has awarded a total of 50 full and partial scholarships since the start of the year.

If you'd like more information on financial support for swim lessons, click here

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