Johnny Kimberlin knows a thing or two about swimming.
The self-described “pool rat” has been attracted to the water since he was a kid. He swam for championship teams at St. Xavier High School and he’s coached middle and high school swimmers off and on for the past 10 years.
No surprise, then, that Kimberlin, 31, aquatics director at The J, has been pegged to reconstitute the center’s swimming academy. The J Swim School will slice the water for the first time on August 6. Letters have already gone out to parents of prospective pupils.
The new program replaces the Lenny Krazylberg Swim Academy, which has been in place here for six years.
“I’ve been a coach for 10 years,” Kimberlin said. “We’ve got very experienced, veteran instructors, and we’re ready to take this dive.”
There are some significant changes afloat.
For one, Kimberlin plans to divide the year-round program into three groupings: water safety, pre-stroke, stroke. Each group with have multiple levels of proficiency. Each kid must be tested before moving to the next group.
For another, he plans to blur the lines between J Swim School and The J’s swim team, the Gators.
“The idea is to make the JCC the place to be for swimming,” he said.
Currently, 175 kids are taking swim lessons at The J.
In the new water safety group, kids will get comfortable in pool. They learn to put their faces beneath the water, float on their backs and get used to jump in unaided, or, as Kimberlin says, “become independent.”
In the pre-stroke group, kids will learn to be “streamlined in the water.” They will work on getting their head, hips and feet into “correct body positioning” without taking a stroke Kimberlin said. They also will learn to “sidekick” – rolling their bodies to the side to breathe in the water.
Finally, the stroke group will first teach young swimmers to freestyle and do the backstroke – both of which have much in common – before they move on to the breaststroke and butterfly – two harder strokes that require breathing without rolling to their sides.
Kimberlin said the instructors also will teach the kids to do flips in the water (pushing off from each end of the pool to complete a lap) as well as finishes, dives and back dives – all necessary to swim competitively.
Kimberlin hopes The J Swim School will become a feeder program for the Gators. A logo for the school, much like the one the team uses, is being designed, and he hopes to see the team’s coaches take part in the new program.
“We’re going to try to make the swim team and the school talk to each other,” Kimberlin said.
The J Swim School will hardly be a rigid program. It will conform to the pupil, not the other way around.
“Every kid is different,” Kimberlin said. “There could be a 10-year-old who is at level one versus a 3-year-old who learns all the levels in three months. It’s hard to put a time limit on it.”
Length of classes and prices will stay the same, he added. The school will offer private lesson to children as young as 24 months and will have an adult class as well.