DENVER (CBS4) – Blazing temperatures have many families looking for a place to cool off. Swim lessons are in high demand this summer in Denver and all over the country. Many parents are holding their breath, waiting for a slot to help their kids stay safe.
CBS4 spoke to several swim schools in the Denver area and they were all booked with new swimmers.
"There was a waitlist everywhere. We waited for a lesson here for probably three months. I still feel like we got really lucky," said Kate Pallischeck, the mother of a 4-year-old student at Denver Divers and The Swim School of Denver.
She started thinking about lessons for her daughter, Jude, when she turned one.
"She's always been very comfortable in the water. We didn't have to go through a lot of the adjusting to the water itself," said Pallischeck. "She has no fear of water. She seeks out water anywhere, anytime. We had a hard time finding lessons where there wasn't enough of an emphasis on safety."
Denver Divers and The Swim School of Denver co-owner Ali Miller says they're doing their best to accommodate the growing demand.
"We've been on a waitlist for a long time. It was two years but we're getting a little bit smaller in the length of the waitlist. With COVID we reduced the number of swimmers and instructors in the pool to make social distancing happen," said Miller.
The pandemic also delayed summers of swimming lessons nationwide.
Closed pools due to restrictions left many future swimmers waiting for lessons around the country. Now they're lining up.
"We have definitely seen a decline in the age where people are learning to swim. We like to get them as young as possible. It's getting a bit older now," said Miller.
The increase in demand for lessons is happening during a staffing shortage for qualified instructors and lifeguards.
"The way that swim lessons are taught is actually like early childhood education. A lot of people think that swim lessons come from high schoolers down the street, when in fact, if you want really good swim lessons, you should have somebody that's anchored in childhood development," said Miller.
The USA Swimming Foundation says formal lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%.
"There's such a big importance on teaching kids how to swim at a young age. You realize the risk of kids drowning and it's such a common thing. Having to wait is frustrating," said Pallischeck.
Water safety has been at the forefront of our state, as drowning deaths in Colorado this year are on pace to break a record.
"Conditions change constantly. In Colorado where weather changes all the time, it can be really swift water in the spring, and by fall there's really slow water. You might forget that when you come back in the spring, and it's time to jump back in. That can be dangerous," said Miller.
Parents like Pallischeck say it's important to stay persistent and keep searching for lessons.
"It can be hard to work it into your schedule, and it can also be expensive, but it gives you an incredible peace of mind once you see your child progressing in the pool," said Pallischeck.
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