Photo Information

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII — L.J. Szalai, water safety instructor certified swim instructor, engages in a swimming lesson with Andrew Thiel, 3, at the base pool, June 9, 2015. Swimming lessons are available at the base pool during the summer. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Kristen Wong/Released)

Photo by Kristen Wong

Get your feet wet with summer swim lessons

12 Jun 2015 | Kristen Wong Marine Corps Base Hawaii

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII — Andrew Thiel is soaking from head to toe, his eyes hiding behind a small pair of clear goggles, and he has the biggest smile on his face, waiting for his cue.

“Duck dive!” calls his swimming instructor, L.J. Szalai.

 The 3-year-old plunges beneath the water like a duck searching for fish. For Thiel, it’s the best part of his Tuesday swimming lessons at the base pool this summer.

 Though swimming lessons are also offered in the spring and fall, summer is the busiest time, according to Szalai, an American Red Cross water safety instructor certified swim instructor at the base pool. Szalai has been with the base pool for about a year and a half and has been a certified lifeguard for 12 years.

 As a swim instructor, she said she enjoys seeing the children get excited about learning something new and seeing the parents feel relieved to see their children swimming.

 Group lessons are available twice a week for eight sessions. The next eight-session swimming lessons run from July 7 through 31, 2015. Patrons can choose between a Tuesday-Thursday schedule or Wednesday-Friday schedule for the sessions, which are generally held between 11:55 a.m. and 5:10 p.m. The next series of three-session swimming lessons runs from July 11 through 25. The three-session lessons are offered on Saturdays.

 Active duty service members and patrons with sponsors of varying ages are eligible to register for swimming lessons. There are six different skill levels offered. Patrons may take private, semi-private or group lessons. Each type and level is offered at different times. During “Learn to Swim 2” for instance, students learn techniques such as how to float on their back and front, while during “Learn to Swim 5” students learn how to dive from a kneeling and standing position.

 Szalai recommends students bring goggles and sunscreen when arriving for lessons. During the winter months, she reminds patrons that the pool tends to be colder, and outfitting children in wetsuits encourages them to stay in the water longer. The base pool has other equipment available for use, such as kickboards and water toys.

“I think (swimming is) a great life lesson especially on an island surrounded by water,” Szalai said. “I try to get everyone in just to learn basic floating survival techniques just to help in any case of emergency especially out here. It’s definitely something you want to put your younger kids in and keep them going. I (also) encourage (adults) to learn if they don’t know.”

The thought of swimming may be daunting for some, regardless of age. Szalai advises first-time swimmers to “stick with it” and practice.

“Always give it a try,” Szalai said. “(Practice), that’s all it is.”

Szalai recommends that adults sign up for private lessons. Private lessons are on a first come, first serve basis, and slots for private lessons tend to fill quickly.

 Those taking swimming lessons might surprise you. She said sometimes, active duty service members have come in for swimming lessons when they want to work on techniques for swim qualification.

 For more information about swimming lessons, call the base pool at 254-7655 or visit Brochures found online and at the base pool give details about pricing for each type of lesson.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii