The sounds of summer will soon be coming from the direction of Ives Pool, where the Sebastopol Rotary Club will again be teaching local 7-year-olds how to swim. Sebastopol Rotary’s Learn-to-Swim Program is now in its 36th year, and the club is looking for volunteers to help with this year’s program.
From April 25 through May 19, free swimming lessons are being offered by the Sebastopol Rotary Club, which has been providing basic swim and water safety lessons since 1984.
The free lessons are held in an effort to cut down on child deaths related to drowning. When Rotarian Greg Jacobs worked in the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office, he was on a committee that reviewed all deaths in the county.
“There were too many drowning in bathtubs, swimming pools, the Russian River, the coast and Lake Sonoma,” reads a handout from the Sebastopol Rotary Club.
Jacobs is helping organize the swim program with Rotarians Cindy Carter and Rick Wilson.
Since the program’s inception, over 10,000 children have participated in the swim lessons. Jacobs said that Rotary didn’t want to let three years go by without swim lessons for the Sebastopol area’s over 300 second graders. He noted that each child will get a free swim bag with wet gear and a T-shirt.
Learn to Swim cannot be run just by Rotarians. There are not enough to make up the 100 volunteers required to put on the program — as they do every year, Sebastopol Rotary is putting out a call for volunteers to both parents and other community members.
What it takes to volunteer
“You do not have to be a former competitive swimmer or swim instructor to help with the lessons. We teach volunteers how to teach very basic swim lessons, and we help them poolside during classes as well,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs, who learned to swim at Ives Pool while growing up in “Sebastopool,” was also a former pool manager, lifeguard and swim instructor at Ives during high school, college and law school.
Volunteers who sign up to help instruct the program will attend an hour-long orientation in the pool on either April 25 or April 26 and are expected to be in the pool starting the first day. Volunteers are asked to come with their bathing suit, sunscreen, glasses, hat and a towel.
Volunteer instructors do not need prior swim teaching or competitive experience.
Jacobs, who learned to swim at Ives Pool while growing up in Sebastopol, was also a former pool manager, lifeguard and swim instructor at Ives during high school, college and law school.
Jacobs remembers a water safety lesson learned as a child, the hard way: “I was playing around in shallow water in my little inner tube in the Russian River at Mirabel, when I ignored my mother’s advice to stay close. A hidden current swept me out to deeper water. I really thought I was going to the ocean, but mom and others came running out before I got very far. I never forgot what can happen in the Russian River.”
If you, your partner, family members, friends want to help keep our children safe, please volunteer to help at Ives. No offer to help will be refused. You can pick up a volunteer form at Ives, from a participating school or by contacting Jacobs at 707-823-7341 or [email protected], or Wilson at 707-824-0846 or [email protected].