North Coast youngsters had the chance to hone their kayaking skills within the safe confines of the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre the past several weeks.
Amanda Hagen and Nathan Ramin, two ex-assistant coaches with the Prince Rupert Rapids swim club and current lifeguards, ran the program designed to teach on-the-water safety skills.
“[We’ve been doing] lots of education about PFDs (personal flotation devices), life jackets; when they work, how to use them, how to fit them properly,” said Hagen.
The program is part of National Drowning Prevention Week, held from 1 to 3 p.m. last Monday to Friday, and while the initial turnout didn’t meet any lofty expectations, once the kayaks were brought out Hagen and Ramin had to turn kids away at closing time, the boats were so popular.
“We started doing that and then everybody took a liking to the boats,” said Ramin.
“Not everybody gets to do it, I mean I’ve only been out kayaking once or twice,” added Hagen.
The duo also operate the “Swim to Survive” challenge where participants are given a disorienting rollover in a boat, asked to tread water for a minute, swim back and forth and if they successfully complete the challenge they were given a certificate.
During this, the final week of the pool’s availability before it’s shut down until Sept. 21, Ramin and Hagen will be operating Sports Week, a chance for kids to play water polo, underwater hockey, volleyball, and boogie board surfing.
“It’s free, every day from Monday to Friday this week,” said Hagen.
Adults can also get a kick out of kayaking in the pool with Thursday night sessions from 8:30 to 10 p.m. They can choose to bring their own, rent one for a small fee, or rent one at a discounted price with an aquatics centre membership.