Because the Deseret Peak Aquatic Center is closed due to budget cuts, some local parents have fewer options this summer to provide swimming lessons for their children.
But a Stansbury Park woman has created a solution to help alleviate the problem.
Cassandra Arnell is allowing SwimKids, a program based out of Holladay, to teach lessons in her private pool in her Stansbury Park backyard.
“Since the county pool isn’t opening, parents seem to be scrambling for swim lessons,” she said. “Pratt [Aquatic Center] and the Stansbury [pool] are pretty much booked up already, but there is another local option.”
Tooele resident Hanna Kripfgans, who is an instructor for SwimKids, will instruct at Arnell’s private pool. She used to work as a lifeguard at Deseret Peak when it was open, and has worked for SwimKids for about a year. SwimKids is a program that was formed in the mid-1980s by Salt Lake resident Liz Walker.
“I thought it would be good to do lessons in Tooele County, especially because there’s not a lot of outdoor pools that do private lessons,” Kripfgans said. “Liz wanted to start up lessons here, so it was perfect timing.”
Kripfgans said SwimKids is a program that is fun for kids, but focuses mainly on safety. Arnell agreed, and said it’s important for kids, especially in Tooele County, to know swimming safety.
“The program is designed to really teach kids to swim, more than just get comfortable or have fun in the water,” she said. “With all the mountain creeks, irrigation ditches, backyard paddling pools, Stansbury Lake and other nearby water dangers, water safety for kids and self-rescue skills are super important. I’m letting Hanna use my pool because I want more kids to have the opportunity to gain this fun and life-saving skill.”
Arnell’s pool holds around 12,000 gallons of water, goes to a maximum depth of six feet, and is heated to 90 degrees.
“When my kids were taking lessons [from SwimKids] last winter indoors, I asked if they would like to come out to my pool and do lessons,” said Arnell. “This idea was really in the works since before we learned Deseret Peak’s pool wasn’t opening, but in light of that, this gives kids more opportunities for lessons.”
Arnell’s children, Abigail, 4, and Brilya, 2, are taking swim lessons from SwimKids because it gives Arnell peace of mind. She said the program will start teaching babies how to swim before they’re even six months old.
“Swim lessons are a fun way to learn how to swim and be safe,” she said. “Safety is a big deal for me and my kids, especially because we live on [Stansbury Lake] and we have a pool. Teaching kids when they’re young helps them get used to water really early. The program recommends they get in before they’re 18 months old.”
Arnell said because Kripfgans has been driving into Salt Lake County to teach swim lessons, it made sense for her to be able to stay closer to home to continue to teach.
“SwimKids also has clients from Stockton and Tooele who have been traveling into the Salt Lake area, so now there is a local option for this swimming instruction method,” Arnell said.
One of the major aspects of training children so young, according to Arnell, is that toddlers will learn how to turn over and float on their backs when they get tired from swimming.
“Their program is geared so that after 16 lessons, you will have a child who will swim and then flip over and get on their back and rest when they need to,” she said. “The child can keep doing that across the pool until they find a safe way to get out.”
The swim lessons in Arnell’s pool will start June 17. Lessons will be taught on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The lessons are primarily for kids who are residents of Tooele County. For more information about the lessons or SwimKids, visit www.swimkids.biz.
“We [are providing the swim lessons] because we want locals to have this swim option and safety training,” Arnell said. “I remember taking lessons outside under the sun at the Stansbury Park community pool growing up. It’s a priceless experience [with] so many fun memories. I want everyone who wants that opportunity to have it. To everyone who enjoyed Deseret Peak last year, I don’t have a big slide or diving board, but I do have a big puddle of water that can provide a lot of summer fun.”