2013-09-20 / Columnists

Go Parks!

By John Hutchins and Elissa Connors

Teaching kids to ‘Swim for Life’ at Asser Levy Pool in Manhattan. Photo by Daniel Avila/NYC Parks Teaching kids to ‘Swim for Life’ at Asser Levy Pool in Manhattan. Photo by Daniel Avila/NYC Parks With the summer season coming to a close, we may reminisce about the long days of summer where families can gather on the 14 miles of beaches in New York City and take a dip in one of our 54 outdoor pools. But in NYC, the majority of recreational swimming is done indoors between September and May.

Annually, 44,000 New Yorkers participate in free aquatics programs courtesy of the Aquatics Division at NYC Parks. In the coming fall and winter months, NYC Parks will offer programs at 12 indoor Parks’ pools and 2 partner pools for tots, children, adults and seniors. And a hop, skip and a jump—or a swipe of your MetroCard—can bring you to some of our state-of-the-art indoor pool facilities throughout the five boroughs.

Trained Water Safety Instructors facilitate classes on a daily basis to ensure that New Yorkers of all ages can brush up on their swimming skills, embrace their competitive side on a swim team or participate in a water aerobics fitness class; all during the winter months. The programs below help ensure that the millions of New Yorkers who use our beaches and pools each summer are able to do so safely.

 Learn to Swim: Basic swim instruction is offered by age group – toddlers (1 ½ - 5), children (6-17), and adults and seniors (18+) through this free program at 14 pools throughout the five boroughs. More than 29,000 New Yorkers participate in Learn to Swim each year and this fall, children ages 6-17 can Learn to Swim afterschool at Far Rockaway High School on Fridays. Pre-registration is required.

 Water Aerobics: This program offers aquatic exercise therapy for adults and seniors that ranges from gentle water walking to aerobic-type exercise which improves range of motion, flexibility, mobility, muscle tone, coordination, focus and strength.

 Adapted Aquatics: For people with disabilities, Adapted Aquatics provides swim instruction that focuses on becoming comfortable in the water and learning basic swimming and safety skills. Classes will be offered through June on Friday afternoons at Asser Levy (Manhattan), St. Mary’s (Bronx), Metropolitan (Brooklyn), and Roy Wilkins (Queens) Pools.

 Swim Teams: The NYC Parks Swim Team program trains swimmers and organizes teams for the Borough Cup Championship during the indoor swim season with the championships held outdoors in the summer. Youths between the ages of 6 and 18 who can swim 50 yards indoors in reasonably good form are able to participate.

Participants will develop swimming skills and learn competitive swimming strokes, starts and turns, and team sportsmanship concepts.

 Swim for Life: An innovative program that provides second grade students in New York City’s public schools with basic swimming instruction, Swim for Life trains public school second graders as a class, during the school day, at 35 NYC Parks, YMCAs, Asphalt Green & other partner pools. To date, 24,000 students have been served through Swim for Life.

 Lifeguard Training: Beginning with a qualifying test which is open to those ages 16 and older, those who pass are enrolled in the Municipal Lifeguard Training Program; a state-certified program that teaches applicants the critical skills of CPR, firstaid, and techniques for saving a swimmer in distress. Qualifying test dates will be posted at the end of December on the NYC Parks website.

Additionally, members of NYC Parks Recreation Centers can participate in general swim and lap swim programs. For a listing of the 35 NYC Parks Recreation Centers, 12 indoor pools and membership information, please visit http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/recreationcenters.

For more information on Citywide Aquatics Programs, the registration process or Swim for Life, please contact the NYC Parks Aquatics Division at (718) 760-6969 ext. 0 or visit http://www.nycgovparks.org/programs/aquatics.

Go Swim! Go Park!

John Hutchins is the Director of Aquatics for NYC Parks; Elissa Connors works in the Public Programs office of NYC Parks.

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