Carson Valley Swim addresses water safety with new program |

Carson Valley Swim addresses water safety with new program

by Rachel Spacek
Carson Valley Swim Center instructor Richard Cannon teaches a student how to swim.
Special to the RC |

In the United States, 52 percent of adults are considered unsafe around water according to the American Red Cross. With this statistic in mind, the Carson Valley Swim Center set out to combat it by launching its first Adult Learn to Swim program last summer.

Richard Cannon, instructor at the Carson Valley Swim Center, retired from swimming at a young age but said he really wanted to give back to the sport that gave him so much joy in life. He went through a certification program with U.S. Master Swimming that would allow him the ability to teach adults how to swim.

“For anyone who doesn’t know how to swim, there is a nagging sense of something missed,” Cannon said. “I realized that right away in the very first lesson. They feel like they’ve missed out on something. The joy others feel while swimming is not available to them. A new world opens up by learning how to move safely through water.”

The ALTS program is a two-week long program that meets twice a week. The cost of the program is $55.

Cannon said in his experience he noticed many adults have a fear of water because of past experiences, he hears of a lot of adults avoiding scheduling vacations around water and even instilling a fear in their children of water.

With more than 180 million swimming pools and hot tubs in the United States, according to U.S. Master Swimming, Cannon said it is important for exercise and safety purposes that adults learn to swim.

“My goal is to hear someday that one of my students go on vacation and go swimming with their families,” Cannon said.

Cannon’s class begins with a 10-15 minute introduction followed by a slow-water introduction. The water introduction is to provide adults with basic water skills and to get them safer and comfortable in and around water.

Cannon taught a class last week where one of his students swam the first two laps of her entire life. He said the feeling was incredibly rewarding.

Other than the ALTS program, the swim center offers three levels of lessons for children. Parent-child lessons are for children ages 6 months to 5 years, skippers lessons are for children ages 3-6 years and swimmers for children ages 5-12 years.

Sarah Davenport has taught lessons every year since the early 2000s. She said she started out terrified of water until her family moved to Gardnerville and she started taking lessons at the old swimming pool. She, along with Cannon, said she really wanted to give back to the sport.

The Carson Valley Swim Center gave a total of 700 lessons this year.

“We are a community pool and our main purpose as an aquatic facility is to teach the community water safety and how to swim,” said Shannon Harris, director of Carson Valley Swim Center. “That is why we exist. Our fundamental responsibility to this community is to make sure that our community is safe and has an opportunity to learn a critical skill and that’s swimming.”

Harris said it crushes her and the swim center staff when they hear of someone drowning in the area. The staff encourages residents to take advantage of the swim programs and the classes they offer to combat drownings. Lessons are $55 for residents and $65 for nonresidents. Individuals must register ahead of time for the ALTS program.