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High demand for swimming lessons this summer, but finding instructors to teach them is a challenge

After a year with very few swimming lessons, parents are rushing to get their kids caught up heading into the summer.

MINNEAPOLIS — With how hot it has been getting lately, a lot of people are excited to get back into the water this summer.

The temps are expected to reach the low to mid 90’s next weekend and that alone will inspire a lot of Minnesotans to head to their local lake or swimming pool.

However, swimming instructors are worried that some kids may not be prepared to get back into the water.

“The number one safety measure we have is swimming lessons and they have been mostly on hold for the last year or so,” Aquatics Manager Sarah Chillo says.

Chillo says the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board hasn’t been able to offer swimming lessons since March of 2020.

She’s worried that kids across the Twin Cities metro may not have the skills they need to stay safe in the water in this summer.

“We have some concerns that maybe this summer is going to start off a little scary,” Chillo says.

The Twin Cities have already seen several drownings in recent days, including a handful over Memorial Day weekend.

Chillo says the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will start offering lessons again starting on June 21st, with more than 1,200 lesson spots available.

“The best thing is for parents to be out in the water with their kids. If they can’t, and they’re on the beach watching them, please put down the cell phone this Summer and keep an eye on them,” Chillo says.

Swimming instructors at the YWCA of Minneapolis are also worried about safety this summer.

The organization was able to offer some swimming lessons during the pandemic, but not many.

Before COVID, the YWCA’s Midtown location taught swimming lessons to around 1,336 kids.

During COVID, that number dropped to just 180.

Organizers say they’re working to make up for that gap by adding more swimming lessons this summer, but they are struggling to find enough instructors to meet the demand.

Starting this week, the YWCA is bumping up the starting wage for swimming instructors to $16.25 an hour to hopefully attract more candidates to apply.

The Y of the North is also struggling to find swimming instructors.

Organizers say they could use another 132 instructors to meet the demand this summer.

“Parents are very worried,” Aquatics Manager Shannon Kinstler says.

“They’re looking at even doing private lessons. They’ll do whatever they can to keep their kids safe.”

The Y of the North has a few swimming spots available right now.

“We are working to hire more instructors and as we hire them we will try to add more lesson spots for parents and their kids,” Kinstler says.