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Free swim lessons available in St. John

RESERVE — Free swimming lessons, aerobics classes and water safety courses are all part of the summer fun planned for Regala Park’s pool.

For the fourth consecutive year, free swimming lessons will be available for residents of St. John the Baptist Parish through the Ashley Kelly Swim Program and a collaborative effort with the American Red Cross and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.

The Ashley Kelly Swim Program gives youth the opportunity to receive life-saving swimming skills and teaches safety in and around swimming pools and other bodies of water. Through the program, certified instructors teach participants water skills through fun activities.

Applicants can register for lessons from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Walmart in LaPlace or by contacting the parish’s Department of Parks and Recreation at 985-652-9569.

The deadline to apply is May 29. Organizers said any late registrants may be wait-listed.

Enrollment for the swimming lessons will be limited to the first 300 registrants.

The lessons will be taught to parish youth ages 5 to 18 in three sessions: June 8-12, June 22-26 and July 13-17.

Each person signing up will attend five, 45-minute swimming lessons that address water safety, floating, kicking, breathing, arm movement and swimming. Sessions will be offered in the evenings at 5:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. at the Alex Reese Swimming Pool at Regala Park in Reserve.

Traditionally offered to youth, Instructor Anita Hefler said several adults signed up for the lessons last year. She noted how important it is for St. John the Baptist Parish residents to know how to swim, since there is water saturating many areas of the parish.

Hefler said instructors would be available a half hour before lessons start to teach water safety and swimming basics to interested adults.

Organizer Melynie Wright said anyone interested in lessons for individuals with special needs should email specialangelsoutreach@yahoo.com for more information.

In addition to the lessons, free water aerobics classes will be offered at 8:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Regala Park Pool. On non-swimming lesson weeks, a 6:30 p.m. class will also take place.

Hefler said water aerobics participants are encouraged to bring a large pool noodle to classes, and there is no need to sign up in advance.

Individuals ages 16 and up interested in becoming a water safety instructor should contact Parks and Recreation ASAP for information on the opportunity, Wright said, which requires those certified to volunteer at the parish’s pools.

The certification, which Wright said is different from that of a lifeguard, lasts two years.

Wright said open swim for Regala’s pool, as well as the West Bank’s pool located at 136 Castle Drive in Edgard, will be $1 daily. She said the pools would be open from 1 – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, adding parish officials have said the targeted opening for the pools is June 1.

For additional information or inquiries, contact the Department of Parks and Recreation at 985-652-9569.