The five-day swimming course for elementary school students for all four years was very popular at Lippetal.
Lippetal (gl) – waves are reflected on the ceiling of the teaching basin. Water flows over the edge of the pond as Kjell, Liam, Pit and Lukes smile as they toss balls out of the basket. You have about 40 minutes of intense swimming lessons behind you. Now they can play something to finish.
“By doing this, they are automatically practicing what they have just learned,” said aquatics teacher Elke Gasse of Unsere Kleine Schwimmschule in Lippetal. Together with swimming champion Dr. Anja Birkefeld has offered a five-day crash course for primary school children from all four grades over the past weekend. 64 of them took part in the show at Lippetal in groups of up to eight children, which was planned in cooperation with the three primary schools.
On Friday, the first baby jumped into the water, and on Tuesday some reached the level of seahorses. “It’s a project from the ‘Reach and Catch Post-Corona’ government funding bowl – 65 places were free,” says Stephanie Grabenschwer, head of the school authority.
School swimming lessons can only be conducted to a limited extent during the pandemic, and sometimes the use of the swimming pool is not permitted at all. Next, swimming champion Berkefeld made 15 regular runs for a total of 75 kids – they were booked on the spot. “The demand is huge,” Grabenschröer continues. The intensive course it sponsors is also well received by parents. The training is specifically adapted to the needs of the children.”
To determine this, swimming teachers at the respective elementary school assigned the children to a three-level competency grid. Then the schools invited parents to participate. “Parents take their time, get their kids to the bathroom in five days,” Cornelia Doering, principal of St. Stephen’s Primary School in Ostinghausen, says of course admission. “Because of the constant training every day, the course is very effective,” adds her colleague Susan Kressing of the Ludgerus School in Leborg.
Elke Gasse confirms this, but also notes the short-lived nature of the material that is quickly learned: “It would be good for someone to swim with the children three times a week to reinforce what they have learned.” Sometimes this happens when we go swimming at school. Depending on grade level, students have weekly or bi-weekly swimming lessons for the whole school year or half a year.
For Gus, after explaining how to treat each other with respect and the usual bathing rules of the Intensive course, the priority for children to develop self-confidence and learn how to save themselves. First they train the necessary muscles: they put their hands on the edge of the pool, push themselves up and climb out.
Gus explains that no one should fool themselves: Even if the kids could stand, there’s no guarantee that they will. “Everyone who falls into the water is stunned, loses direction, and tries to breathe.”
With starfish training, the little ones can float backwards on the water – mouth and nose are far from the surface of the water, gathering strength to be able to continue swimming. But then you also have to pass a number of courage tests: jumping on a mat and walking on it trains your balance and direction, underwater exhalation, and diving into a large loop. The water teacher sees clear progress.
“In the next step, individual children should be specifically supported during regular swimming lessons in the fall,” says Danielle Thomas, principal of St. Ida Elementary School, explaining the continuation of the support program. Specialists like Elke Gasse from the swimming school – unlike the school’s swimming coach – are allowed to go into the water.
School Principal Heike Kuehne is responsible for managing the ‘Reach and catch-up post-corona’ programme. The municipality has been awarded €95,000 for this purpose, which has been flowing into various measures since November 2021. These include educational vouchers, visits to extracurricular learning sites and the purchase of promotional materials. 475 children attend the three primary schools.
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