Swimming toward saving lives in Shreveport - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Swimming toward saving lives in Shreveport

Kids practice their swimming techniques at Shreveport's RockSolid. Kids practice their swimming techniques at Shreveport's RockSolid.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Dozens of ArkLaTex faces appear in the KSLA News 12 archives when in stories about drownings around the area. 

In fact, the area has seen a whole lot of heartache linked to tragic drownings. From the Red River tragedy in 2010, where six teenagers were swept away, to a 7-year-old who died just two months ago in Cypress Black Bayou, the loss has been great.

So RockSolid has a goal: that fewer families will endure what those who have lost loved ones to drownings have.

RockSolid is an organization that provides free, grant-paid swim lessons. The young and old all gather at local pools for group training, because learning to swim will save lives. 

“My baby, he fell in the pool at Disney World two years ago, so that prompted me to get him some type of swimming lessons,” Jauhida Shepphard said. 

Her family’s near tragedy made Shepphard realize it’s time for her boy to learn to face his fear of the water.

“It traumatized him a lot," she said. "I see him now having trouble dunking his head under the water and then for like three more months, you couldn't put water on his face, he would freak out."

And now, Jace Shepphard clings to the side of the pool, his first step in facing his biggest fear: the water and going under, and not being able to get out. 

“The importance of learning how to swim is that it’s a survival skill, it’s something that we don’t look like we have to have every day because you’re not in the water," said LaVance Henderson, a swim teacher. "But at some point this is something you’re going to need."

Little Jace is given an all-out challenge as he hugs the pool wall.

“Put our arms out straight, were going to put one foot on the wall,” one swim teacher coaches. 

Jace is heard yelling in surprise: “What! What! I cannot do that! I cannot do that!” 

But these free swim lessons hope to change those "cannots" into "cans."

“For me it will give me that ease, if he was to go to a pool and have kids get rough and push each other, and push each other in, he’ll be able to handle it and be able to swim” Jauhida said. 

Learning to stay calm, is important for kids like Jace, who may be facing their phobias, Henderson said.

“Beginning stages of swimming is learning how to breathe, it’s actually opposite of what you do every day,” he said. 

“Hi!” Jace said, walking up to his mother after a lesson.
Jauhida: “How are you doing?”
Jace: “Mommy I’m learning new things!”
Jauhida: “You did, what did you learn?”
Jace: “Making bubbles in the water!”
Jauhida: “Were you scared when you got in the water?”
Jace: “Yes!”
Jauhida: “Are you scared now?”
Jace: “No!”

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