Hockey, snow sports and forestry are just a few of the areas students in the Vernon School District can study while also completing high school.
Add swimming to that list if a proposal by the Vernon Kokanee Swim Club is approved by the board.
At a recent presentation to trustees, club vice-president Jason Shortt explained the reasons why the Vernon Kokanee Swim Academy would be a good fit for the district.
“I have three daughters in the main club and another in the grassroots program and I’ve been very impressed with the swim club and the effect it has had on my kids; it’s been very positive for my family.”
Shortt said getting enough pool time for practice has been difficult, due to swim lessons scheduled after school and in the evenings.
“Some of the stumbling blocks right now are that we are confined to the ability of the club to grow, so the ability to have some training time during the school day would help,” said Shortt, adding that the swim club celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. “The swimming season matches up with the secondary school season so it’s a good fit from a school’s point of view.”
He added that club members swim from 5:30 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. and then again in the evening.
“There is a big benefit to having training during the day because they could have more time at night without training and more time to be a teenager.”
Shortt said if approval is given for a swim academy, the club would manage the scheduling and organizing and that there will likely not be any added costs for the cash-strapped school district.
A personalized learning plan would be developed for each athlete, based on their sport and academic goals. Students would be credited for a minimum of two high school courses during their participation in the academy, and will also have options for additional training credits, such as lifeguard certification or Bronze Cross certification.
A single block all year will be the minimum required commitment from participants. The swim academy has been designed around a year-round schedule that fits the challenges of the rotating weekly schedule with the restrictions of the pool’s accessibility. In-pool training will take place once a week, with the other days set aside for academics, yoga and dryland training.
To prepare for the presentation to trustees, Shortt and other club board members met with head coaches, program coordinators, rec centre staff and parents. As well, they consulted with representatives from existing sports academies.
“The swimming group has made an innovative proposal and this is a nice balance for these families who are involved in these highly active programs. I think it’s a great idea,” said district superintendent Joe Rogers. “Hopefully we’ll have people asking for a dance academy –the more the better.”