Biloxi teachers include swimming in lesson plans

The Biloxi Public School District's swim classes take place at the city's natatorium.
Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 5:29 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - First graders made a splash in Biloxi Thursday with swimming as a part of their curriculum.

For the Biloxi Public School District, the ability to swim is an important life lesson to have on the Mississippi coast and to hone at an early age.

“It’s fun, funner than everything,” six-year-old Emmanuel Wilson said.

He said the biggest challenge of the day for him was a race against his peers to the other side of the pool.

“It was hard,” he added.

In addition to learning to jump in, swim around, float on their backs and more, the students also learn the ins and outs of doing so safely.

The district’s swimming program resurfaced last year following a break during the pandemic.

“We felt like it was important to bring back the swimming lessons because we are surrounded by three sides of water,” Christine Laird said.

Laird is the first-grade swim teacher, as well as the district’s team coach.

“The younger they start swimming, the more proficient they will be,” she said.

The swimming program runs on a two-week rotation across the district, which means each first-grade class arrives every day for two weeks.

“Some of the kids are really scared to get in at first,” Laird said. “And then, maybe by day two or three, they are in the water blowing bubbles, kicking their feet. They see all their friends doing it, and they just catch on even faster than they would with private swim lessons.”

Not every child has a chance to take those private lessons either.

“I’m learning how to dive and how to touch the bottom of the pool,” first grader Pryce Barbee said. “Every time I do it, this teaches me more how to do that stuff better.”

Pryce Barbee is learning skills she is proud of but could also save her life someday.

“I can float on my back,” she said. “I can swim from one side of the pool to the other.”

The Biloxi Public School District’s swim classes take place at the city’s natatorium.

“My number-one thing is: it makes me happy to know that the kids are going to be safe around the water,” Laird said.

The public swimming pool is open to adults Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Entry is $3.

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