KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Swimming is a skill many people take for granted until tragedy strikes like earlier this week, when a man who didn’t know how to swim drowned in an Allegan County lake.
Drowning is also one of the leading causes of death among children. The Swim for Success program at Kalamazoo College is looking to change that, one child at a time.
Water can be foreign – and dangerous – to children who can’t afford swimming lessons.
“We live in a state surrounded by lakes,” said Kalamazoo College student Steph Rauhoff. “Lots of lakes within the state as well.”
Several years ago, Kalamazoo College developed its Swim for Success program. Its goal is to teach children how to swim at no or little cost to them.
Rauhoff, who is a competitive swimmer, brought her love for the sport to the K College pool, teaching kids ages 4 to 14 all about swimming.
“It’s a chance for the coaches to get to make a connection with the kids and try to get them to love the sport that I know so many of us have loved for a long time,” Rauhoff said.
About 100 kids go through the program each year.
“I’d like to see it grow,” Rauhoff explained. “And with the building of the natatorium, we’ll get a bigger pool. So, hopefully we’ll be able to house more kids to teach them.”
Swim for Success is so unique, other organizations have contacted Kalamazoo College to learn how to create their own programs.
“(The kids) are all just adorable in their own ways, and they all bring lots of fun energy to the program,” said Rauhoff said.
In a class created for children, perhaps the adults are the real students.
“The kids teach you as much as much as you teach the kids,” Rauhoff added.