Kane County Chronicle

St. Charles Park District: From water safety to swim team, swim school offers classes for all ages

There’s joy for a teacher to see students excel at something they love. St. Charles Aquatic Swim School instructor Anna Hutchinson loves to hear about swimmers helping their high school team have a great season or earning a spot on a top college swim team.

She celebrates their accomplishments, even if in her mind she’ll always remember them as small children when they made their first big splash in the pool at the Norris Recreation Center in St. Charles

“We’re a close-knit swimming community,” Hutchinson said.

From tiny toes splashing in a parent-tot swim class to helping students swim independently and become members of the local swim team, the one constant for all instructors at the St. Charles Aquatic Swim School is a passion for safety in the water, Hutchinson said.

“While the swim instructors’ goal is to get each swimmer ready for joining a swim team, I think what drives all of us as swim instructors is the passion we have for water safety and saving lives,” Hutchinson said. “We all know a tragedy in the water can be preventable if you have the right tools. Even if you don’t have on a lifejacket, your swim lessons will remain with you.”

For more than seven years, the St. Charles Aquatic Swim School has partnered with the St. Charles Park District to provide swim instruction with small group swim lessons, introduction to diving and water polo and swim fitness classes.

“Swimming and water workouts are a great way to get the heart rate up, using the resistance of the water to build muscles and the benefit of not putting pressure on the joints,” Hutchinson said.

In addition to having instructors with strong backgrounds in swimming, the St. Charles Aquatic Swim School maintains a small teacher-to-student ratio to provide the best instruction for each swimmer, said Tim Lewarchick, director of the St. Charles Aquatic Swim School.

For swimmers in the beginner through intermediate level, the student to instructor ratio is 4:1.

“We have a very good group of instructors that really care about the kids,” Lewarchick said.

Children can begin swim instruction starting at six months in the parent-tot classes. The St. Charles Aquatic Swim School offers classes for preschool, youth and adult – whether they are learning to swim or seeking to improve their strokes.

“We have adults who want to become a triathlete and we run classes to help them to get in better shape in the water,” Lewarchick said.

The youth swim team provides year-round team competition and many of its participants continue to swim at their high schools and beyond. In addition to the St. Charles Aquatic Swim Team that runs fall through early spring, there is a summer team, Otters, that is available for swimmers ages 6 through 18.

Lewarchick and John Cabel manage the competitive swim team program.

“We’re really proud of that program,” Lewarchick said.

In addition to training many swimmers who go on to compete with their local high schools, the program has had members pursue Olympic dreams and swim for top college programs.

Registration is open for the Spring Swim Lesson session with weekly lessons April through May at the Norris Recreation Center’s indoor pool. There also are classes on springboard diving and the fundamentals of water polo.

The St. Charles Aquatic Swim School also hosts programs for home-schooled students.

Hutchinson said each summer she welcomes back former swim team members as instructors. They share their knowledge and love of the sport with younger swimmers.

“They are wonderful instructors because they have been swimming so long and they know it so well,” Hutchinson said.