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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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After-School Program Gets Norwalk Kids in the Swim

Norwalk middle school students had a chance to work on their strokes at the pool this spring.  For the first time, the Norwalk Education Foundation (NEF) offered swimming lessons as part of its middle school after school program. With summer coming, the kids were happy to get the extra pool time to practice, and in some cases learn swimming.  "It's a good way to be active after school," said Nathan Hale student Alexandra Whalen.  "It reinforces what I learned before," said fellow student, Esha Sharma.

Every Tuesday for nine weeks, 35 Nathan Hale students walked to Norwalk High and swam for an hour. The sessions ended last week. The programs were collaborations between NEF, which was the after school provider, Stew Leonards, which funded the program and SwimAmerica , whose instructors taught the classes.

SwimAmerica director Rob Polley was approached by NEF, after the group conducted a survey about parents' after school wishes.  "The most requested program was in the 'other category'-- it was swimming."  Polley approached Stew Leonard's which has a foundation dedicated to water safety.  In 1989, Stew Leonard Jr.'s young son drowned in an accident and in 1990, he created the foundation which frequently provides swim lesson scholarships.  "Stew's funded the program right away."

Although other middle schools were offered swim programs after school, the majority of the participants were Nathan Hale students because for them, transportation was unnecessary since they could walk to the pool.  Polley hopes the program will continue next year.  "The kids made excellent progress."

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