To Whom It May Concern:
As a teacher, Sergeant and coach I have seen the transformative quality of mastering skills that were previously thought impossible. The ‘Make a Splash’ and ‘Water Polo’ programs that I was involved in this past summer with Coach Mark Rauterkus gave this transformation to nearly 100 kids by teaching them how to swim. They grew as swimmers, students, athletes and most importantly, people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of death for ages 1-14. Not only does this program teach a life saving skill, but it opens the doors for experiences that would otherwise be omitted from these children’s lives. Their ability swim gives them the ability to utilize some of the cities most impressive assets and gives them a skill that they can develop throughout a lifetime.
The program used enthusiasm and competition that incorporated drills to develop the students’ skills and muscle memory. Starting in the shallow end, the program carefully developed all the tools that each student would need to be a ‘deep end swimmer.’ After the tools were established, the program wasted no time in getting them into the deep water. Through a combination of encouragement, peer pressure and reassurance each child was able to swim in water over their head.
Over the course of the five weeks students developed a culture of competition and sportsmanship, playing a variety of water based games and being responsible for following and enforcing rules. Many of the students exposed natural ability and honed talents they were previously unaware of. The constant physical activity in close proximity developed a sense of comradery that is rare in the age group. Students readily took instruction from staff, gaining a sense that instruction could be immediately applied and result in improvement.
The U.S. Army teaches that the defining characteristic of a warrior is a willingness to close with an enemy. Deep water is a formidable opponent. By jumping in with both feet and the confidence they would prevail, students of the Make a Splash program realized something about what they could do, anything.
-Jacob Boyce Social Studies
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