Earning their sea legs

The Shaker High School pool comes alive with the Hokey Pokey chorus and the sight of mothers helping their preschoolers learn to swim during the Town of Colonie's Toddler Swim Program.

The program is a part of the town's summer enrichment events meant for children between the ages of 2 and 4. Colonie Parks and Recreation Department Director Alicia Osur said the idea came about when Sean Williams, coordinator for the enrichment program, felt there was a need for a swimming program for that age group.

"I had discussed last year expanding the offerings for children, and he came up with the idea of toddler water instruction," Osur said. "It allows us to encompass a segment of children's programs that aren't usually offered."

This is the first year the program has been offered, Osur said. Since the pilot program was very successful, she said, the town plans to continue the program next year for the 2012 summer enrichment season.

It fits in with the mission of the enrichment program, which is to provide residents of Colonie something to do during the summer. This includes not only swimming but also tennis, arts and other athletics. The swimming program is a six-week long program and is a weekly program.

"This allows parents to choose what programs would be appropriate for their children," she said. "And we have 50 different programs."

Williams said the goal of the swimming program for such a young age is to just get the children used to the water and introduce them to swimming. He said that most of the children can be afraid of the water, so the program has different activities to help ease them in.

"Things like putting their face in the water, blowing bubbles and playing some children song games to get them feeling comfortable," he said. "Also, going underwater with the assistance of their family and certainly to be able to start getting them to do things such as the doggy paddle and being able to float by themselves is ultimately the objective."

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