SPECIAL REPORT: Reporter Maranda Whittington learns to swim

Published: Jun. 29, 2017 at 7:41 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2017 at 9:48 PM CDT
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(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - If you wake up early enough on Tuesday and Thursday mornings you'll find me, Maranda Whittington at the 2nd Avenue pool in Lake Charles, learning how to swim.

That's right: I'm a 23-year-old adult living in Louisiana who doesn't know how to swim.

My parents always took me to the beach or to the pool when I was younger, but I still never knew how to swim.

But after meeting Ward 3 Aquatics Director Rene Fontenot, and helping her spread the word about Ward 3 offering one dollar swim classes, I knew it was time for me to finally hit the water.

But first I had to put on my swim cap.

And for the next two weeks I was at the pool learning everything from bobbing, to how to float and kick, and most importantly how to breathe under water.

That part is still a little hard.

But with dollar swim classes happening this summer I was a little shocked to see there weren't a lot of adults taking advantage of this opportunity.

"I think part of why adults don't want to come out is maybe embarrassment," said Fontenot. "Fitting it into a busy schedule and then at times as they age, by the time they're grandparents they just think they're too old."

Fear is the key thing that makes teaching adults how to swim much harder for Fontenot than teaching children.

"The biggest challenge would be to get the mindset that you can do it, and that it's not something that has to be forced," she said.

Fontenot says more than half of the people that visit the three pools in Ward 3 don't know how to swim, and many parents that bring their children to the pools also don't know how to swim.

April Douglas is one of the adults attending the adult swim classes at 2nd Avenue, and her children are the biggest reason why she is learning how to swim.

"It lets them know that I'm not afraid and that you don't have to wait until you're an adult to learn how to do it," said Douglas. "They can see mom motivating them, and me doing the same thing."

And swimming can be a great way for families to bond, and keep parents from asking questions like...

"What am I going to do safety-wise as a parent," said Fontenot. "How will I keep my children safe if I cannot swim?"

Over the last eight years, 15 adults have lost their lives due to accidental drownings, according to the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office.

"It's a great sadness, because people's lives are wasted that way," said retired swim instructor Pat Pickett.

Pickett has been a swim instructor for more than 40 years, even teaching Fontenot, and for those learning how to swim the most important thing is repetition.

"Repeatedly going through your little procedure to get...over those humps or those really scary moments is what's good," said Pickett.

And that's something I can agree with.

Learning how to swim isn't easy. In fact there were plenty of moments where I told Rene and the camera how hard it was.

But the more I practice and believed in myself, the easier the process became.

Now by no means am I saying I learned how to swim in two weeks. In fact I'm still going to classes every Tuesday and Thursday, but for a dollar I'm learning a skill that will change my life forever.

Fontenot is hoping that people will come out and take advantage of these adult swim classes they are offering.

Ward 3 is offering adult swim classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. at the 2nd Avenue pool on 1100 2nd Avenue in Lake Charles.

Swim classes for children ages five and up and water aerobics classes are offered at 2nd Avenue pool and at University pool on 511 Central Parkway in Lake Charles.

Every class is one dollar.

For more information, questions or concerns, contact Rene Fontenot at rfontenot@ward3recreation.com

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