A whistle and more than 30 children jump together into the sports pool of the “Saalemaxx” leisure pool in Rudolstadt. Third graders at Rudolstadt-Schwartz West Elementary School have one hour of swimming lessons a week. Here they use different techniques. The purpose: At the end of the academic year, as many as possible should receive a Thuringian swimming pass. To do this, they must swim safely for at least 15 minutes.
What works well in Rudolstadt does not apply to all of Thuringia. Many students here could not learn to swim all year round. Swimming lessons in many schools have been canceled for some time in the second year of the Corona virus. The Ministry of Internal Affairs talks about individual cases, but it looks different on the ground.
“For example, the municipal pools in Saalfeld and Neuhaus only opened in February,” says Andre Hüster, swimming coordinator for the Saalfeld-Rüdolstadt district. “The children have been missing for half a year.”
The curriculum includes one hour of swimming per week
Some of the first bathrooms are already closing again. Due to maintenance work or needing staff in outdoor pools. Swimming lessons in Thuringia are compulsory for all children in the third grade. The curriculum provides at least one hour per week or two hours every other week.
During the coronavirus epidemic, however, many bathrooms remained closed. City officials feared high operating costs if the pools were only open for swimming lessons and the school administration’s hands were tied.
The country is trying to compensate for the failure of the coronavirus
Especially in the first year of the Corona virus, many children learned to swim poorly or not at all. The state of Thuringia is trying to counter this. Last year there were swimming lessons during the summer holidays, this year the state is providing educational vouchers with which children can register for swimming lessons in public swimming pools.
But there is limited capacity and many courses are already fully booked. The country has currently spent only half of its nearly 6,500 learning vouchers. How many of these have already been repaid will be known only in a few weeks.
At Saalemaxx, three swimming teachers currently look after around 400 children from 16 schools in the district. After the last summer holidays, swimming lessons can be held here again. Now about 85 percent of children here can swim safely. “In other parts of the county, it’s only 50 percent,” said swim coordinator Andre Huster.
She would also like to send other classes to swim lessons, as many children take longer and everyone has different needs. “Some people here are seeing the inside of a bathroom for the first time,” says Andre Huster. In third grade, these children then first learn the basics of the wet element.
There are no swimming instructors – there is a shortage of young people
But for more swimming lessons, more professionals are needed here. There are always requests from teachers who also want to teach swimming lessons. But the road there is long. In addition to the qualification of a teacher, a lifeguard’s certificate is also needed for those who want to stand next to the pool. After all, no misfortune should happen to children during swimming lessons.
Huster is worried about something else. Many of the current swim instructors will be retiring in the next few years. Generational absence is becoming a problem, and even fewer students will be able to participate in swimming lessons in the future.
The children of Shvartsa West School have almost completed their academic year. Next week they have the last hour of swimming lessons at Saalemaxx. Then, hopefully, nothing will get in the way of the holiday bathing fun.