The Linda Wiginton Aquatic Complex has been a bustling hub of activity since school let out for summer and it has shown absolutely no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
The summer swimming season has been underway awhile now and even though it is one of the more popular activities housed within the confines of the complex’s chain-link fence, it is far from the only activity to be explored.
The pool’s aquatic director and namesake — Altus High School Swimming Coach Linda Wiginton — has been hosting classes for all ages at the city pool since May 31 and will continue to do so through July 7. These classes have been a tremendous asset in helping local children learn how to swim for more than 30 years now and Wiginton plans to continue holding her annual classes for a long time still. When asked about how she got into swimming, Wiginton cited a bad experience when she was a child.
“I had a near drowning when I was two or three,” Wiginton said. “I couldn’t get my feet under me and my mom had to jump in and save me. It took years to get through that. I think when I look back on it, that’s why it has been my passion to teach children. I just can’t stand it when children are afraid. The earlier you get them in and the more you expose them to the water, the safer they become.”
That is exactly what her Water Babies class is all about. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5-5:30 p.m. or 5:30-6 p.m., they sing songs and make swimming fun for the children to get them used to the water. There must be a parent in the pool with the children and children up to five years old are allowed to enroll in the program. The next Water Babies class will begin Sept. 6.
Wiginton has been teaching swimming lessons since she was 16. She taught her way through college and although she originally was an English major, she realized her true passion was swimming. Wiginton went back to school and acquired a degree in physical education and has been teaching ever since.
“I never regretted it. It was the best decision I ever made,” Wiginton said. “My superintendent that hired me, Dr. Morris Foster, he called when we were at the state meet and he had just found out I got that Coach of the Year award and he was so excited and said, ‘See there, we made a good decision all those years ago,’ and I said ‘we sure did’ and I’ve never looked back.”
Her swimming classes this year have seen great enrollment. Though she wishes enrollment was higher so that she could teach more children in the community how to swim and practice safety in the water, she is thankful for those she is able to reach this summer.
As part of her ongoing efforts, the complex is currently hosting swimming classes for people of all ages.
Classes for the four- and five-year-old children and six-year-old children are taught by lifeguards and swim team athletes. The six-year-old children can participate in more advanced swimming with up to seven different levels of difficulty.
Water Babies, junior and senior competitive swim and adult swim classes are taught by Wiginton.
Water aerobics classes in shallow water are taught by Doris Gross.
The complex also offers senior citizen swim between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and lap swimming from 5-8 p.m. every night except Saturday and Sunday.
For more information about these classes or for free swim times, stop by the complex and pick up a schedule or contact Wiginton or Michael Sive at 580-481-2269.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.