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YMCA jumping into pool
The 2019 Effingham Stingrays won the YMCA of Coastal Georgia championship. - photo by Photo submitted

  RINCON —  The water in the Effingham YMCA pool is about to churn with activities for all ages.

Pending possible complications created by the coronavirus, the YMCA will soon start hosting a variety of aquatic events.

“We going to start some of our programs early this summer,” Director of Fitness and Aquatics Regina Clontz said. “We will have availability to our pool for lap swims and (water) aerobics in mid April at noon. We have not done this before.”

The aerobics class is called Polynesian Water Swim. It will be led by a native Hawaiian familiar with Polynesian dances.

“We are also going to have a general fitness class that will include strength training, core training and cardio training,” Clontz said. “That will all be in the water as well.”

Pool exercises have tremendous benefits as the water furnishes resistance and limits the wear and tear on joints. Lanes are kept open for those who prefer to work out on their own.

“The interesting thing about swim is that you never lose that skill set. It’s like riding a bike,” Clontz said. “You will see seniors in our water lap swimming with the same skill set that you will see in a strong member of the swim team.

“Muscle memory happens there. Once you are a swimmer, you are always a swimmer. That’s the wonderful thing about getting young kids started.”

On May 2, the YMCA will start taking applications for its swim team for ages 5-17. The first practice is set May 27.

“That will go eight weeks,” swim coach Michele Schuman said. “July 20 is when we have our championship meet. We are the reigning (YMCA of Coastal Georgia) champions here at the Effingham facility so we are super excited to host our championship meet here again.

“Throughout our association last year, we walked away No. 1.”

Championships are nothing new for the Effingham YMCA. The Stingrays have claimed the association title in four of her five years as coach.

“It’s a huge sense of pride for me,” she said.

The 2019 Effingham team featured 60 swimmers.

“It was the largest swim team in the association,” Schuman said. “This year I hope grow it a little bit and reach the 70 mark.”

 The Stingrays, who have four official meets slated, practice Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning at 7 a.m. The younger participants start their instruction at 8 a.m.

“Leading up to the swim team, we will have what we call a swim clinic,” Schuman said. “I will run May 11-15.”

The week-long event will feature instruction on the breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and freestyle.

“We spend one day on each stroke and then kind of review and wrap it all up Friday,” Schuman said. “It gets them started so that when we start the swim team officially they know enough to get into the pool and start going. That is available for any kid 5-17.

“As long as they can swim the length of the pool, we encourage them to come do that.”

The Effingham facility offers more swim instruction than any YMCA of Coastal Georgia member.

“Swim lessons for all is our goal,” Clontz said.

“We live in a coastal community where water is all around us,” Schuman said. “Water is my passion, swimming is my passion and they always have been. These kids that grow up without learning to swim, to me, is a dangerous situation.

“From a water safety standpoint, I would love for everybody in this community to be able to swim on some level if the swim team isn’t the ultimate goal for them.”

The YMCA offers member and non-member rates for the swim clinic and other pool activities.

“We are inclusive and we are looking to provide wellness and fitness opportunities for people of all ages on our pool deck from mid April until early September,” Clontz said. “If people want to try classes and are not members, we can provide them with a week-long pass so that they can come to the facility, try out our classes and see if they are something they would like to do on a more permanent basis.

“They can also join just during the summer.”

The inability to pay for instruction isn’t a barrier to using the YMCA pool, Clontz said. Financial aid applications are available at the front desk of the facility.

“We are passionate about this on every level to get as may people into the water as we can to teach them safety first and stroke technique second,” Clontz said. “Every program that we have in the water is covered in our scholarship program.”

Schuman said the YMCA is accepting applications for lifeguards. 

“We are looking to hire lifeguards that are in their 60s and 70s who are retired and want to stay a vital part of the community,” Clontz added. “Being a lifeguard is a great way to give back.”

The Effingham YMCA, located at 1224 Patriot Way, can be reached at 912-826-2199.