For the past few years, the Blackham Boys took swimming lessons at the West Jordan Middle School pool every summer. Last year, with the Jordan School District making cuts ... the pool was one of the casualties. So as summer started this year, I had to look elsewhere. There is an outdoor pool next to Gene Fullmer (where the boys play basketball) and we decided to give it a try. Signing up was a little more difficult; there was only one day of signups (the Wednesday before) and only six spots per class. I went at 7:00 in the morning to make sure I would get a spot for the boys, and as all levels aren't taught at the same time, I was very relieved when I got both boys in at the same time (9:45-10:15, Cooper in Level 3 and Colton in Level 2). Here's my random thoughts comparing the venues:
- Lesson Length: This year it was 30 minutes, compared to a full hour last year. I think the boys actually liked the shorter lesson. It was nice that this pool allowed a 15-min window in-between lessons (WJMS had them back to back, and that made for some crowded walkways with people coming and going at the same time).
- Outdoor vs Indoor: It was refreshing to be outdoors. I was a little worried about the kids getting sunburned, but it was such a short time out each day, and so early, that it wasn't really an issue. And of course, there was the weather ... several overcast days, with one Tuesday lesson being cancelled (pushed to Friday) due to rain and wind.
- Classes and Crowds: These classes were smaller (only six kids) vrs up to twelve at WJMS (although they would then have two teachers, so a similar ratio really). The WJMS was rather crowded, constant crossing of paths. There was a bit more room here at the outdoor pool, but they were still often confined to small areas (a large portion of the pool was roped off for lap swimming and water aerobics).
- Teachers and Teaching: The boys each had a variety of teachers over the eight lessons, a little less consistency than at WJMS (maybe it was just our session). Both locations went by the Red Cross standards, but there were many things I'd seen at WJMS that I didn't see here (a concentrated safety day, climbing down a pool to a deep portion of the pool), and vice versa (more games, collecting rings, etc.) I liked the teaching at both locations, but after a few years of identical lessons, it was actually nice to have some new activities and slightly different approach.
- Deep Waters: The outdoor pool had a much larger shallow section. At the WJMS pool, the kids (especially the small ones) had to be careful not to let go of the side, or they could be in trouble in the 3 1/2 foot water ... here, the kids could swim then simply stand up without a problem (although they did move to deeper water for some of the lessons).
- Solo vs Group: We've always gone with the group lessons, but if you want to pay more, you could opt for private or semi-private lessons. I was able to observe a private lesson going on, and I actually think the group dynamic is better for my boys. They enjoy meeting new "friends" and having a little "off-time" (while the teacher is working with the others) to rest or goof off.
- Walking While Waiting: At the WJMS pool, I would walk the length of the pool (which wasn't really very long) while I waited. Occasionally, on the cooler days, they would keep the doors closed, trapping me inside where it was hot and humid and even less room to walk. The outdoor pool was better for me. I could have walked around the entire thing, but I generally just walked about halfway around (from one child's area to the next) and then backtracked. During the 30 minutes, I could get about 3000 steps in (about a mile and a half).
Cooper had actually passed Level 3 last summer, but he was very worried about moving up to Level 4, and he is very young and small to be there, so I put him in Level 3 again. I was glad that he did pass it again ... although I STILL don't know if I'll move him up to Level 4 until he's more comfortable with the idea (me too). There was another "Cooper" in his class (Big Cooper ... he was in 5th grade). Colton did well, but will need another session to perfect his Level 2 skills. I love to watch him, he's absolutely unafraid (although he is aware of his limitations). I'm glad we found another location to get our swimming lessons in, while we were so sad the WJMS pool closed, we were all very happy with our experience here at the WJ Outdoor Pool.