The East Baton Rouge Parish parks and recreation system for the first time will be offering free swimming lessons to children this summer.
And to celebrate, new BREC Superintendent Corey Wilson will take a ceremonial leap into the swimming pool at BREC's Liberty Lagoon on Saturday.
Wilson is hoping his "big splash" will bring awareness to BREC's transition to free swimming lessons, made possible through the agency's partnerships with the American Red Cross and Southeast Louisiana Aquatics.
"With the significant amount of bodies of water in our parish, I am very thankful we are able to offer these critical services to our community," Wilson said in a news release Tuesday.
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Wilson will make the dive into the Liberty Lagoon pool at 9:30 a.m Saturday on the water park's opening day. The event mirrors what the New Orleans mayor does annually to kick of that city's recreational programs each summer.
This summer also marks the first time BREC won't charge entrance fees at any of its three community pools, which open May 25. The initiative is also designed to drive a renewed interest in water recreation activities in the parish's underserved communities.
"This has been a big push, an agency-wide initiative for the superintendent and the (BREC) Commission," said Malena Moreau-Jezek, BREC's publicity and marketing manager. "We want people to swim and have access and give them the tools to feel comfortable."
Moreau-Jezek said swim lessons with BREC instructors usually range between $7 and $60, depending on the class.
BREC's array of swim lessons include "Mommy & Me" sessions for infants and parents and accelerate upward with classes for children, teens and adults.
The partnerships with SELA and American Red Cross will now offer those lessons free to approximately 500 children at Liberty Lagoon and about 180 kids at each of its public pools, including the City-Brooks, Howell and Anna T. Jordan community pools, the news release states.
Swim lesson registration opened April 17.
Parents and caregivers may register themselves or their children for swim lessons onsite at Liberty Lagoon or online at register.brec.org.
Editor's note: This article was changed on April 24, 2019, to note that Corey Wilson is BREC's new superintendent.