City and YMCA partner for more pool options

  • Photo/Lynn Colburn
Adult swimmers help young kids gain confidence in the water during a swim class held at the Bob Freesen YMCA.
  • Photo/Lynn Colburn
Adult swimmers help young kids gain confidence in the water during a swim class held at the Bob Freesen YMCA.
  • Photos/Lynn Colburn
The Bob Freesen YMCA will be offering swimming programs at the the City of Jacksonville’s Nichols Park pool this summer.
  • Photo/Lynn Colburn
Kids of all ages are encouraged to get their toes wet at the Bob Freesen YMCA.

By Lynn Colburn

A new partnership between the City of Jacksonville and the Bob Freesen YMCA will offer more opportunities for all at the Nichols Park pool this summer. The public can participate in a line-up of classes offered through the YMCA in the mornings at the outdoor Nichols Park pool, allowing for more usage of the city facilities.

“This winter I called Mary Henry at the YMCA and just had an idea of maybe developing a partnership,” said Kelly Hall, director of the Parks and Lakes Department for the City of Jacksonville. “We met several times to discuss possibilities and she was excited about the possibilities. We have been able to work out the logistics and this it will be beneficial for all.”

“We talked about putting the pool to use as much as possible by scheduling use of Nichols Park pool in addition to the Y pool,” Hall continued. “We felt that it would be an option, through YMCA operated programming, for the public to be able to attend some classes during hours when the city doesn’t even use the park pool. We feel the pool should be used as much as possible, and found out that Y members have commented on how they would like to be outside sometimes also, so I think this is going to work out really well and be beneficial to both the general public and YMCA members,” commented Hall.

Nichols Park pool doesn’t open until about 12:30 p.m., so in the mornings, the pool sat empty. Now, people can sign up for swim lessons, swim team and water fitness classes at the YMCA that can be taken in the sunshine at the Nichols Park pool. “In addition,” says Hall, “we are still discussing maybe a class or two in the afternoons.”

Hall says, “Right now, this on a trial basis. We are going to give it a whirl this year and see how it works, and maybe we have stumbled on something that can benefit us both … and the extra benefit about this is that all morning programming scheduled for the outdoor park pool can revert to the indoor YMCA pool if weather becomes a problem with temperatures or rain that day. So, that part works out really well for the participants.”

The city and the YMCA share many of the same lifeguards, but the YMCA will ultimately be responsible for the morning lifeguards. “We are also working on some specials that the city will implement during the regular hours at the Nichols Park pool … we will promote those as we know more,” said Hall.

The YMCA will offer programming at Nichols Park pool before the city schedule begins. That schedule will include YMCA swim team, swimming lessons and water fitness classes, as well as swim safety lessons one day a week during city operations.

Bob Freesen YMCA Executive Director Mary Henry says, “Basically, what people have to do is sign up at the YMCA like they would for any other YMCA program. The YMCA Shark Swim Team will swim all five mornings for those team members who are 11 years old and older. People can sign up now through June 1 for swim lessons at Nichols Park pool on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The first 4-week session of lessons will run from June 6-July 2. There will be additional lesson sessions in July and August. One of our water fitness experts, Jennifer, will teach water fitness classes from 10-11 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Nichols Park pool. She has a real following for that class. Aqua Zumba, a kind of dance-in-the-water class, will also be offered on Wednesdays from 11:15 a.m.-noon.”

There will be other new class trials, too. “We are also trying a water safety lesson from 2-2:30 p.m.,” says Henry. These would be fun water safety instruction for kids ages 5-14, as they are 30-minute water safety lessons led by YMCA aquatics instructors in the safety of a pool with lifeguards. Henry reveals, “The main focus of the instruction is simple: we want to educate youth on how to stay safe around water, but do it in a fun way. These are not traditional or comprehensive ‘swim lessons’ … rather, during these classes the children learn how to be safe around lakes, pools, rivers and streams. They will learn personal water safety techniques, as well as what to do if they see someone else needing help around water.”

Another idea is communicating what is available to young persons in different ways. “We are also working with the all the local daycares to offer lessons for them at the pools,” says Henry. “We are hoping that as more kids learn to swim and be around the water safely, they will enjoy the city pool and lake more and more often, as well. We will continue our other lessons in evenings at the YMCA pool. The more families feel comfortable and safe around the water, the more likely they will continue to use both pools.”

Henry says, “Both Kelly (Hall) and I agree that it’s a great way to expand the city and YMCA programming … and (the idea) guarantees all programs can happen no matter if they weather is sunny, cold or rainy, since it can move indoors when needed due to unpredictable weather.”

For those interested in becoming a lifeguard, courses are offered at the YMCA for Red Cross Lifeguarding certification and recertification both. For information on the next available lifeguarding or CPR/first aid courses, call the YMCA at 217-245-2141. Lifeguarding participants must be at least 15 years old by the end of the course to qualify. This does not guarantee employment at either facility, but lifeguards are always needed throughout the area at different facilities.

YMCA SCHEDULE AT THE

NICHOLS PARK POOL

Monday:

11 a.m.-noon: YMCA Sharks Swim Team

Tuesday:

9:30 a.m.-noon: Swim Lessons

10-11 a.m.: Water Fitness

11 a.m.-noon: YMCA Sharks Swim Team

2-2:30 p.m.: Safety Lessons

Wednesday:

11 a.m.-noon: YMCA Sharks Swim Team

11:15 a.m.-noon: Aqua Zumba

Thursday:

9:30 a.m.-noon: Swim Lessons

10-11 a.m.: Water Fitness

11 a.m.-noon: YMCA Sharks Swim Team

Friday:

11 a.m.-noon: YMCA Sharks Swim Team

REGULAR NICHOLS PARK POOL HOURS

Sunday-Thursday: 12:30-6 p.m.

Friday-Saturday: 12:30-8 p.m.

Share This