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Safety First Swim Classes Aim To Aid Kids
Summertime and the swimming's easy - at least it seems so in classes at the Riverbank community pool, where the children splash around in the blazing sunlight under the instruction of college age lifeguards and the parents give encouragement from the coolness of a shade structure.

Riverbank Recreation Department runs swim classes at the pool at Seventh and Stanislaus streets from Monday through Thursday for all ages and abilities during the summer. The main problem for parents is signing up their kids in time, as the classes are very popular.

For five-year-old Devin Brandon in the tiny tots class, this is his introduction to swimming. He's just learning to duck his head under water.

For his parents William and Sara Brandon, it's mainly a matter of safety. Residents of Riverbank for more than six years, they plan to get a home pool, an in ground one, when their children get a little older. Their eight- and 10-year-olds took lessons here last year and Devin is signed up for another two-week session after this one.

Another mother, Colette Lund, has brought her three-year-old Benita Rocha and four-year-old Carli to the morning tiny tots class.

"This is Benita's first year and Carli's third year in swim classes," said Lund. "Carli is my fish and Benita my lizard. She sunbathes on the poolside, jumps in the water to cool off, scrambles out to sunbath and goes through the whole cycle again."

Riverbank residents for two years, Lund and her daughters live near grandparents who have a pool and go over there to swim. They also visit Jacob Myers Park and swim in the river.

Wrapped in identical towels, three-year-old twin boys Austin and Casey Slack sit waiting for their mother as the class ends.

"They will be going again," said Angela Slack. "They enjoy it and they need the training for safety reasons. My mother-in-law has a pool that we visit. I learned to swim through recreation department classes. My husband learned in a pool in Florida although he grew up living near the ocean."

Another mother who identified herself only as Stacey had another reason for enrolling her three children in swimming lessons. They frequently accompany her to visit her parents who live in southern California and own a 50-foot yacht on which they take the family on cruises to Catalina Island. The children of ages three to six years must learn at least enough to stay afloat in case they fall from the moving boat.

"That's a lot of the reason we come here in summer," she said. "It's a refresher course for the children on what water is and how to stay safe around it."