Spring Branch ISD Featured News

Second Graders Gain Confidence in the Pool


During five consecutive days of school, more than 50 second graders from Spring Shadows Elementary in Spring Branch ISD recently traveled to the Duncan YMCA for 30 minutes of swimming instruction designed to improve safety around water and teach skills that could prevent drownings.

For some this meant overcoming fears of putting their faces in the water, learning to float or moving through the water with improved swimming strokes.

“You can see their confidence grow every time they step into the pool,” said Christina Fontenot, health fitness instructor at Spring Shadows Elementary (SSE). “For me, success is seeing the joy on the students’ faces.”

Most students leave on the last lesson day being able to do something they were not able to do before.

“I really liked swimming even though the water was a little cold (laughs),” said Gemma, a second-grader at SSE. “I learned to open my eyes under water and to not be afraid in deeper water because I can float now.”

More than 1,200 SBISD students from 11 SBISD elementary schools participated in the Safe Around Water (SAW) program during the 2018-2019 school year, the third year of a partnership with the Duncan YMCA. Thanks to grant funding and community support secured by the YMCA, no SBISD funds were used for the students’ lessons in the pool.  

Students from one campus take their lessons at the Dad’s Club pool.

“This [opportunity for swim lessons] will have a direct impact on future athletic opportunities for our middle school and high students,” said Darlene Evans, director of Student Wellness in SBISD. 

She added that this experience for elementary students also “supports our T-2-4 District Goal as well as providing #Limitless Curiosity, #Moral Compass for #Every Child [some of SBISD’s core values] to personalize their education and inspire living a healthy lifestyle.”

YMCA staff serve as instructors and lifeguards for the program. The students are assessed and divided into groups according to their abilities. The students and their swimming instructors choose a name for their group. Sharks and Stingrays are popular choices each year.

“Our goal at the YMCA of Greater Houston is to make children safer around the water,” said Efrain Gonzalez, aquatics director at the Duncan YMCA. “Success for our team is to reach as many children in SBISD as possible.

“It is vital … to provide these children with knowledge and skills to prevent as many drownings as possible.”

The splashes and smiles evident in the YMCA pool this spring contributed to building confidence and a sense of accomplishment, in and out of the water, for the SBISD elementary students participating in the program.

“I thought the swimming was great,” said SSE second-grade student, Tyler.

“I liked being able to swim every day. I learned how to jump in the water and swim back to the wall and how to swim from one side to the other.”

Support is needed for the SAW Program. Please contact Efrain Gonzalez at the Duncan YMCA, efrain.gonzalez@ymcanhouston.org or 713-467-9622.

Submitted by Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications, becky.wuerth@springbranchisd.com