The Terrace & District Aquatic Centre will be offering their first set of swimming lessons this month after being closed for two years and parents eagerly lined up to put their children onto a wait-list.
The pool held a pre-registration session on Jan. 31 that ended with a total of 267 names signed up.
“My daughter is turning six and she has never had a swimming lesson before and I want her to get started,” says mother Iris Katowich. “I also have a 16-month old that I eventually want to start too.”
For many parents in line, they say that the pool’s closure has a caused a delay with teaching their kids how to swim and they worry about their safety in the water.
“Especially living around here, where we have rivers, lakes and we’re so close to the ocean — you want to make sure you know that your kids know how to swim and are safe,” says Holly Collier, mother of two in line.
Debbie Van’t Kruis, the aquatic foreman at the Terrace & District Aquatic Centre, says she recognizes the importance of lessons and how excited everyone is to finally get the classes going.
“It’s one of those skills that are for life, and they really need to learn it, ” says Van’t Kruis. “Many people weren’t fortunate enough to go to Kitimat when we were shut down for so long.”
The first set of classes are scheduled to begin on Feb. 11 and will run until spring break, with the second set following right after that. Van’t Kruis says that the pre-registration was necessary for them to evaluate and break-down what type of classes are in demand to cater to the most amount of kids.
Currently, the biggest need in classes is Sea Otter, the beginner course at the pre-school age, and Swim 1, the beginner course for kids aged three to five.
Van’t Kruis says that they had three pages each filled with names for those two courses.
“Obviously these are the ones that are needed the most, so we’re running more of those and that eventually will balance everything out.”
Although the pool has been operating since Nov. 2018, Van’t Kruis says that their staff is still learning how to navigate the new facility with efficiency.
Changes in space like a deeper main pool and a smaller leisure pool are expected to have an impact, along with a possible adult lane open that would run adjacent to swimming classes.
There are also only five main lifeguards to be divided amongst teaching all the courses, but Van’t Kruis says they’re hoping to add more staff so that there are two instructors in each class. This will help double the class size from four kids to eight — which would help move through the wait-list faster.
The list is approached on a first-come, first-served basis where pool staff will contact each name on the list in order to enroll them into a swimming lesson. Parented classes and adult swim lessons won’t be considered until after the spring break.
“We have a lot of people to try to please for the next little while. Slowly but surely, we’re going to get through that,” says Van’t Kruis. “There are still some people that are on the grumpy side, but once they get in here and they see it, it’s like a transformation.”