Freshmen swim class: sink or swim

Students debate highlights and headaches of freshmen swim class

Colvin Bowen photo

Rachel Smith, Reporter

The intoxicating smell of chlorine reeks throughout the air, crystal blue water and lanes divide the large pool into sections. Each high school student in Washington is required, by law, to attend swim class. Since Washington is mainly composed of water the risk of drowning is higher than in most states, the need to know how to swim is essential.

“I feel that every student should know how to swim because we live in Washington and there are [a large number] of sounds, rivers, and lakes,” Sophomore Juliann Dorny said. Dorny swims competitively on the girls swim and dive team.

The class is a requirement for every student in the high school, there is a large variety in student’s swimming ability. Since so many students have prior experience swimming, the class varies in its teaching style, changing from focusing on the basics to perfecting diving techniques so that even the most experienced swimmer can take something from the semester long class.

“Before I took the swim class I felt confident in my swimming but I feel that I improved after taking the class. I got faster and built up my endurance, increasing my speed,” Dorny said.

Aside from Dorny, other students have different views on the class, such as Sophomore Kayla Murray, a past student of swim team head coach Craig Brown’s swim class.

“I feel that other students being forced to be in swim class is stupid because you have to learn everything again. But it is helpful [in some ways] because it refreshes your memory. I learned some useful techniques such as how to dive and assist a struggling swimmer, pulling them up from under the water,” Murrey said.

Unfortunately, for other students the ability to learn how to swim and learn numerous techniques does not come as easy as it does to Murray and Dorny.

“In my swim class there were people that didn’t know how to swim, they struggled to move across the pool. They didn’t get very far, only staying in one spot,” Murrey said.

Due to this problem Murray recommends that future students learn how to swim throughout their toddler years, this gave her more experience and helped make the class easier.

Fortunately, the students in swim class that have not had previous experience are able to work at their own pace.

“Although there were people in my class that had no experience swimming it didn’t affect me because we were separated into lanes by our skills,” Murray said.

Even though each student was split into different lanes Murrey and Dorny believe that the students that did not know how to swim would benefit more from the class if the different skill levels were split into separate classes.

Unfortunately separate swim classes by varying skill level are not available, due to the lack of teachers for this subject. But numerous students chose to continue swimming outside of the required class.

The swim and dive team is offered as a sport, for those who want to continue and increase their ability to swim or dive competitively, something that Dorny has been apart of for the past two years as a Seahawk.

“I feel that swimming is a healthier lifestyle because if you swim regularly it can help your muscular and respiratory endurance,” Dorny said. “Swim’s encouraged me to become more competitive.”

The swim and dive team is one of the few sports that does not require students to try out, rather they are accepted onto the team immediately. The team offers multiple swim events, such as diving and relays.

“At meets I usually swim the 100 free, the 200 free, and the 200 and 400 relays,” Dorny said.

However swimming competitively doesn’t come naturally, it takes hard work, dedication and a lot of practice.

“During each swim practice we usually do a 400-500 yard warm up, some drill work, 200 pull and 400 kick, multiple sets of sprinting, breathing work and if we are working on dryland we do a weight routine,” Dorny said.

Through the swim team or swim class most students have come to appreciate the clear waters and the strong fumes of chlorine, setting a stage to help the inexperienced to become the experienced.

“I think [in the end]  the requirement that all Peninsula High students need to take swim is important because it is a life skill that everybody needs to  know,” Murrey said.