Elementary-aged students across Los Angeles have learned basic swimming skills with the help of Beyond the Bell’s free summer swimming program. Beyond the Bell is a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) program that provides academic and sports programs after school, before school and throughout the summer.
Currently, its free swim program is made possible by six metal, above-ground swimming pools that circulate to different elementary schools every four weeks. During the four-week period that a pool is in a school, the students learn simple swimming skills as well as water safety. The pools and program are not only for students attending the school in which it is situated; all elementary-aged students who attend an LAUSD school are welcome.
During sessions, lifeguards reinforce concepts of teamwork and safe play.
The children are encouraged to participate in activities such as Free Swim Friday, which is a free-play day where they swim play water games such as swimming below the surface to retrieve pool toys.
It is common for a student to be afraid to even put their head underwater on their first day of the program. However, after positive reinforcement, many students become “Level One” swimmers within weeks.
Parent RJ Pirchinello is grateful for the skills Beyond the Bell has taught his son, Noah. He hopes that Noah’s new swimming techniques will build a steady base for his aspirations to become a surfer.
At the end of the program, Beyond the Bell holds a culminating ceremony, which congratulates the students on their hard work and commitment to water safety.