City opens registration for fall swim lessons, following record summer water deaths

Limited restart to swim class

The City of Kelowna has opened registrations for fall swim lessons, following a summer of record high deaths in or around the water.

The Interior Health region led the way this summer in terms of drowning or near-drowning statistics, with more call-outs in July than any other health authority in British Columbia.

In 2019, there were a total of 74 drownings, near-drownings and water incidents in the Interior Health region.

By mid-August this year, IH had already recorded 69 such incidents, with another four and a half calendar months left to account for. 

City of Kelowna regional director of Active Living and Culture Jim Gabriel told Castanet in late August the closure of many facilities which usually offer swimming lessons, due to COVID-19, may have impacted water safety.

Now, a limited number of children's swimming lessons are returning to Parkinson Recreation Centre, starting Saturday, Oct. 24. 

“We recognize that these are high-demand programs with low capacities, and we ask for patience and understanding throughout the registration process," says Mariko Siggers, community and neighbourhood services manager.

"If re-opening plans continue to progress, we hope to be able to offer more swimming lessons over the winter.”

Lesson registration is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and participants can expect the following COVID-19 safety protocols to be in place: 

  • Strict maximum capacities are in place for all lessons. 
  • Frequent, enhanced cleaning of the aquatics area each day as well as disinfecting of swim lesson equipment after use. 
  • As per Red Cross recommendations, a parent or guardian is required to be in the water for all preschool lessons (Sea Otter, Salamander, Sunfish, Crocodile, Whale) as well as Swim Kids 1 & 2, to assist their child. 
  • Disinfecting wipes are available on site to disinfect lockers and changeroom benches. 
  • Participants will enter through the front doors and are asked to arrive no earlier than 15 minutes prior to their designated swim lesson start time. 
  • Children are encouraged to arrive in their bathing suits. 
  • Floor markings and additional signage posted on site reminding participants to maintain physical distance from others and to wash hands frequently. 
  • Anyone who is sick or experiencing symptoms is asked to stay home. 

In-person registration will not be available. Online registration is recommended, as phone registration (250-469-8800) may involve long wait times. Registration opens Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 7 a.m.

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