BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - With the grand opening of the Biloxi Kroc Center just days away, excitement about the new facility is in the air.
Today the center had a special open house for the public and offered swim lessons with Olympic Swimmer Neil Walker.
Streamlining, free-styling and backstroking were all on the list of techniques a group of young swimmers covered, but this was no ordinary swim lesson. What differentiates this one from the rest is the fact that these kids were trained by Gold Medalist Olympian, Neil Walker.
"I teach them right away, the most important thing is streamlining. Making your body like a torpedo through the water. Then you go into the flutter kick. Moving your legs as fast as you can trying to propel yourself like a motor boat," Walker said.
The group, who are among the first to test out the Center's newly completed pool, ranged from age 6 to 15-years-old.
Eboni Clay, one of the ambitious youngsters said the experience was unlike anything she's ever done.
"It was really cool because you don't get to do that like everyday," Clay said.
She wasn't the only one giving the Kroc Center and the swimming lessons rave reviews. Harrison Lusk made it clear that he'd have no problem making the swimming a habit after swimming with Walker.
"if I could come here everyday I'd play in the water," Lusk said.
Aside from the thrill of swimming with an Olympian swimmer, this was also an opportunity to promote safety in the water.
"We're human beings, we're not really meant to be in the water. We have to learn how to deal with the water, we have to learn how to relax and we have to learn the techniques to save our own life," Walker said.
The earlier you learn those techniques the better. A study by the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine shows that drowning is the leading cause of death in children under age 5 and the second leading cause in children under age 15.
"You can learn when you're one, two, three years old. So there's a great opportunity, in a place like this, to learn water safety. To learn how to be safe in the water," Walker said.
Walker represented the country at the 2000 Olympics where he won a silver metal, later winning a bronze metal in 2004.