• 81°

Sign up for free adult swim lessons; instructors also offer special needs lessons & water aerobics

LAPLACE — Every chance to alleviate a child or adult’s fear of swimming is a chance to save a life, according to certified water safety instructor Melynie Wright.

“No matter the person’s age, the idea is to prevent someone from panicking if they fall into a body of water or get caught in a flood,” Wright said. “Much like an injury, you have to attack fear of water at its source.”

Considering swimming lessons too valuable to be restricted by financial standing, Wright and Anita Hefler of LaPlace teamed up to provide low-to-no cost instruction to St. John the Baptist Parish residents. They are in the process of forming a Louisiana Splash and Water Safety foundation to secure additional funding.

Melynie Wright and Anita Hefler teach water safety to Trinity Jacobs and Jennifer Frizzell.

Wright and Hefler’s services, which include child and adult swimming lessons, special needs swimming lessons and water aerobics classes, are held at Belle Terre Country Club and partially funded through a United Way grant.

Two cost-free adult swimming classes for beginners are being held the third week of July, and Wright said space is filling up fast. To check availability or register, call 225-328-6084.

Esohe Adun signed up for the course in 2016 after her oldest son, who was receiving lessons at the time, suggested she learn so they could swim together.

“I was scared, and I thought it was going to be embarrassing not knowing how to swim as an adult,” Adun said.

“Then I saw other adults there, and I felt comfortable. I was proud of myself for learning, and my kids were proud of me. You’re never too old to learn something new. Give it a try and you might love it.”

Educating special needs children and adults is equally important as a lifesaving measure, Wright said, adding swimming also provides a valuable recreational outlet.

Anita Hefler is a volunteer swim instructor.

She said Hefler’s experience operating the Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center makes her well equipped to teach 5:30 and 6 p.m. Monday evening swim lessons to those with varying needs and capabilities.

Wright and Hefler also aim to educate the community about water safety, periodically setting up a booth at Walmart to talk to parents and children.

Aside from being a vital skill, Wright said swimming exercises all muscle groups and promotes health.

The duo offers water aerobics classes at 6:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and at 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at Belle Terre Country Club.

Fun and easy on joints, water aerobics attracts 30 to 40 participants per class.

Etta Luminais, 62, said it’s the best exercise program she’s utilized.

“It’s been a really positive experience,” Luminais said. “The ladies teaching the class are two of the most unselfish people I’ve ever come across. They’re not getting paid to do this. It’s out of the kindness of their own hearts.”

Janice Church of LaPlace attends water aerobics classes, occasionally with her 26-year-old son.

“It’s not just for the ladies, and there are some younger people there, too, even if most are retired,” Church said. “It’s a very friendly group of people. Everybody is willing to help each other, and we laugh a lot.”

Wright thanks Semi Wadhwa and Natalie Tatje of Belle Terre Country Club for allowing use of the facilities.

For more information about water aerobics, special needs sessions and adult swim lessons, call 225-328-6084.