Every kid needs to learn to swim at one point or another (there’s even a Talmudic quote that says so, but we won’t get pedantic on you), and what better place to do it than at summer camp?
Jewish Community Centers and their camping programs have touched the lives of an uncountable number of people, and swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg, holder of four Olympic gold medals, counts himself among them. It was at a Los Angeles JCC that he got his first chance to engage both with the water and Jewish culture in the United States, after his family emigrated from the former Soviet Union. “JCCs…as well as a lot of Jewish camping organizations, I think they establish that important foundation of Jewish values and Jewish culture,” says Krayzelburg. Fittingly enough, it’s in JCCs where Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy have taken root, as well as, more importantly for our purposes, Staten Island branch of the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds.
Krayzelburg says the difference between his copyrighted SwimRight curriculum and other programs is the time and attention devoted to teaching each particular stroke, and focus on foundational skills of swimming, like body position. It’s this hands-on approach that makes SwimRight suitable for swimmers of all skill levels, including those with special needs. The curriculum divides students into seven different levels, denoted by color-coded bathing caps – yellow for the first level, orange for the second, etc. Movable islands are used in the pool, giving younger swimmers a solid place to cling to, and allowing instructors to control the amount of open water their students have to navigate.
The Lenny Krayzelburf Swim Academy has been at our Staten Island site since 2009 and it’s been a huge success. 10-year old camper Aliana Huaylinos offers her stamp of approval on the program. “Over at my other camp, it was boring,” she says of swimming. She’s changed her tune since she began swimming at HKC on Staten Island. Aliana’s learning to dive and to swim backstroke, and cites the nice and funny lifeguards as one of her favorite parts of the program.