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Free swimming lessons ticket to no fear

What is it like to see when a child conquers his or her fear of the water and knows how to swim?

Melynie Wright has seen it time and time again, and it’s the driving force behind what she and others do each year through free swimming lessons, aerobics classes and water safety courses at Regala Park’s pool in Reserve.

“That is equivalent to teaching a child to walk,” Wright said of a child learning water safety. “You know that it could potentially save their life or someone they know’s life. We’re teaching them more than how to swim and how to be comfortable in water. We’re teaching them what is not safe and what is safe around the pool. I think, in terms of what the benefits are, they are tremendous.”

Wright and the rest of those involved in the Ashley Kelly Swim Program aim to take the fear of water away from children, and they want to start by helping adults who can’t swim.

“If you take the fear away from the adults, you take the fear away from the child,” she said.

“It has to start with grandparents and parents and letting them know they can stand in a pool and they can float in the pool. You’re teaching them how to be safe around water, and everywhere we turn, we are around water.”

Applicants can register for the free 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.

Enrollment is 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.

The free lessons are just part of the water fun planned in St. John the Baptist Parish this summer.

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 with a target opening date of June 1. However, parish officials stress the date is not finalized.

When operational, the pools would be open from 1 – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

We are blessed in the River Parishes with water almost everywhere we look. Taking precautions so our children and friends are water-safety competent is a responsibility we all share.