Logan swimmers teach Concerned Citizens campers water safety skills
By Jim Turner

Posted on August 28, 2016 1:11 AM

It turns out that kids don’t have to attend an expensive out-of-town camp to learn the basics of water safety. Twenty-five Russellville/Logan County youngsters learned potential life preservation this summer without charge and without having to worry about heat exhaustion or a sunburn.

The youngsters attending the Concerned Citizens Youth Camp were given free swim and water safety lessons by members of the Logan County High School Swim Team at Russellville’s Carpenter Fitness & Aquatic Center once a week during July.

The Carpenter Center and the City of Russellville let the campers use the center’s two pools without charge, and the Lady Cougar and Cougar swimmers donated their time to the cause.

“I’m thrilled the kids got to learn how to swim,” said Concerned Citizens Executive Director Dorris Vick on the last day of the sessions. “I wish someone had taken time to teach me to swim when I was young.”

More than working on swim strokes or other techniques, the student athletes concentrated on teaching the youngsters what to do to prevent drowning. They especially worked on floating, especially on their backs.

“I like going under,” said 9-year-old camper Ken Grady. “I can kind of swim now. I guess I can swim a little. But I really like to float.

Rachelle Wharton works in the office at LCHS and is the school’s swim coach. She said this gave her swimmers a chance to give back to the community and also for the program to get exposure. “Swim is the forgotten sport at LCHS,” she said. “People hardly know we have a team. The swimmers have to pay most of their expenses, unlike other sports where the facilities are provided for them.”

The coach and the swim team are grateful to Mayor Mark Stratton and the Carpenter Center for letting swim teams practice there without having to pay membership fees.

Logan swimming reached a new height last year when two team members, Riley Wharton and Lily Morris, qualified for the state swim meet through their performances at region. Morris helped with the camp this summer, but she is now living in Bowling Green and being coached by Dee Wilkins, the first director of the Carpenter Center when he was the highly successful Russellville High School swim coach.

“Dee has been very good about sharing his workouts with our team,” Coach Wharton says.

LCHS swimmers who helped teach the lessons were seniors Seth Cole and Madelyn Wharton, juniors Joey Higgins, Katie Brooks, Aaron Cunningham and Riley Wharton, freshmen Gracie Wharton and Serenity Metcalfe, and seventh grader Selynna Metcalfe.

“It’s been a good experience. Swimming is a good lifeskill to learn,” said team star Riley Wharton. “We get to spend time with our teammates, it’s good publicity for our team, and we’re doing a good things for these kids.”

Carpenter Center Director JoAnn DeArmond says she hears of so many children who drown, and that concerns her greatly. The Carpenter Center also provides water safety lessons to Stevenson Elementary students during the school year.

“We were shocked at how many kids didn’t know how to swim or how to save themselves in a water emergency,” she says.

The Carpenter Center offers swim lessons every other month for all ages. Former employees and lifeguards Mitch Shanklin, Crystal Jones and Angie Pritchett are the teachers.

The Carpenter Center has a staff of six full-time and eight part-time employees. She said that water exercises are not only popular with youngsters but also with senior citizens who are part of the Silver Sneakers program.

Yoga classes are also very well attended at the center, DeArmond notes.

“The swim lessons have been a wonderful experience for the kids,” said Concerned Citizens Summer Camp Director Archie Beck. “We have been having 15-25 kids daily, but the biggest group is when we come to the Carpenter Center.”

The camp included going to the library every week, learning to cook hot dogs and make sandwiches, and hearing talks of encouragement.

The last day of the camp found the campers going to Kentucky Kingdom at the Kentucky Fair& Exposition Center. Mike Jackson, owner of Ski Daddy’s restaurant on the Logan County High School side of Russellville, played a big role in making that happen, Beck says.

Campers shown in photos include Erica Sells, Joshua Bell, Noah Stovall, Alizah Sells, Emma Kitchens and Conner Whitlier.

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