It was a biblical story that made Barnanne Creech want to teach Zebulon children how to swim at the Zebulon Town Pool.
She was reviewing the story of Peter swimming to Jesus from a boat when she realized that children needed to know how to do that too.
“The Lord was like, ‘They got to learn how to swim, literally and figuratively,’” she said.
And so began the five-day program to teach children how to swim.
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The program takes children who live in public or low-income housing in the town and buses them, using Wakefield Central Baptist Church’s vans, to the Whitley Park pool.
For two hours, children had quick Bible studies, game time, a swim lesson and a snack before heading home.
Teen volunteer Jonathan Desper said most of the children already know a little bit of the information presented during Bible study.
“They pay attention well and ... they really enjoy learning more,” he said.
The swimming outreach is part of SHARE, Sharing Him and Reaching Everyone, a local group of church members and nonprofits that organize and carry out different projects to benefit the community.
Creech said she hopes the class will allow an opportunity to the children they might normally miss out on. Membership at pools in town might be too expensive, as are private swimming lessons, Creech said.
Roger Brantley, SHARE co-founder, said focusing on low-income children gives them resources to stay healthy. It also helps him and other church volunteers from around the area to anticipate other needs of a family or the community.
Creech teaches the group of about 50, ranging in age from elementary school to middle school, the basics of swimming. Children learn how to hold their breath, some swimming strokes and going under water.
All her volunteers, which include teenagers and parents, are from the church. While parents organize outside the pool, teen volunteers organize games and help with the swimming instruction.
“It’s a great way to reach out to them and share Christ with them and give them some privileges that they might not have that we have,” Desper said. “It’s something fun to do, I think it’s just something everybody should have the opportunity to learn.”
Desper swam for about six years as part of the Zebulon Dolphins and is now part of the Rolesville High School swim team. He usually helps out in the pool for Creech’s classes, helping younger children get acclimated to the water.
“(We have) a couple that are still afraid of the water,” he said a few days before the classes ended.
Creech said at some point, she thinks the special classes will help its participants with more than just knowing how to swim. She said it opens the door to becoming a lifeguard or swim instructor later at a location they can easily get to.