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Swim Classes Start With A Splash
What with all the splashing and laughter, swim lessons at the Riverbank pool on a weekday morning are a world away from the tedious paper pushing of an office or, worse, some serious physical labor in the summer heat.

At eleven in the morning, it's Tiny Tot time for instructor Jessica Focha of Modesto, who is working with only three pre-schoolers - there was supposed to be four but the other didn't show - while nearby another instructor has half a dozen beginners.

While even three preschoolers take some watching - one has a tendency to keep climbing out of the pool - Focha said she's delighted with her job. She volunteered for four classes in a row.

"I come in on a bad day and I feel almost instantly happy. All my worries blow away, working with the kids," she said.

One of the children in her charge is three-year-old Keegan Cooper. His mother Amy has another fair-haired youngster, five-year-old Killian in the beginners' class and has placed her chair strategically midway between the two classes.

"We're from Oakdale. We drove over. We looked at the Oakdale and Escalon programs but prefer the Riverbank program," she said. "This is the kids' main activity in summer. They swim every day. The sessions last into August."

Four-year-old Joshua Halloran's mother Michelle said this is his first season learning to swim but he will probably attend just the first session extending to mid-June.

"My mom has a pool at her place, which is another reason Joshua should learn to swim now for safety reasons." said Halloran. "I don't want him to depend on a life jacket they throw in the pool. I learned to swim very young, dog paddling."

For Horatio Fernandez, this was his first swim class and his father Abimelet Fernandez was delighted with his progress.

"Horatio started classes on Monday and kept getting out of the pool. Now he stays in."

The Tiny Tots class for three- to five-year-olds is designed to help a child feel comfortable in the water and introduce them to basic water safety and swimming skills. Parents remain out of the water but are expected to offer support and encouragement.

Riverbank Parks and Recreation Department offers the classes for all skills and ages from a parent-baby class for six to 36 months, through beginners, advanced beginners and intermediate. The two-week sessions run Monday through Thursday with each lesson taking about 40 minutes. Call the recreation department for information on sign-ups and costs.