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Aquatics Newsletter | May 2014 |
May is Military Appreciation Month


As our thank you to those who have served, Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation invites members of the military and their families to enjoy the following offers: 


Thank You Thursdays 

Free admission to all Virginia Beach Recreation Centers each Thursday in May 


Free Fishin' Fridays 

Free admission to the Little Island Fishing Pier every Friday in May. In addition, receive free parking at Little Island Park on Friday, May 23 & 30 (Parking fees are not charged prior to May 23.) 


Free 2-hour kayak/canoe rentals at Munden Point Park during the entire month of May (subject to equipment availability; first come, first served) 


A military ID (active duty, retirees or dependents) must be shown in order to receive these offers. Veterans can show their detachment papers as proof of service. Virginia Beach residency not required. 

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Training Helps Guards Stay Ready to Respond  

The primary goal of a lifeguard is patron safety, and the best way to achieve safety is accident prevention. Our lifeguards are trained to read situations and anticipate what's about to happen next, so they can do their best to prevent incidents from occurring. We asked our guards to share stories of their experiences, and as they opened up, a common theme emerged.

The story generally involves an individual who is relatively new to the facility and is often with a group. Members of the group move to the deep end for free swim or to try tricks off the diving board to impress each other. One individual holds back, but their resolution to remain with the group is strong. The lifeguard notices this dynamic within the group and sees the hesitation. In almost every case, the lifeguard blows the whistle in an attempt to get that person's attention and step in with some intervention. 


In some instances, this intervention prevents an incident from occurring. Other times, it's either the sound of the whistle that launches the victim in motion, or they may already be too focused on joining the group to see or hear anything else. In the next moment, the victim jumps in the water. Once panic sets in, the victim struggles to stay above water. Thankfully, the guard was alert to the situation as it unfolded and quickly springs into action, bringing the victim to safety. 

Even with the most vigilant prevention strategies, lifeguards come to understand that not all emergencies can be avoided. They embrace their training to keep their skills sharp and remain prepared to respond to an emergency. Lifeguards get together each month for in-service training to practice skills, promote team building, discuss customer service scenarios and enhance their physical fitness. All of our guards must work together to ensure that patrons are safe in the pool, as well as in other areas of the building. Some of the scenarios that are practiced during in-service can simulate water rescues, response to a first aid call, a victim that needs CPR or an AED, or breathing emergencies with oxygen administration. 


If you are looking for an exhilarating job that will challenge you and make a difference in the lives of others, consider joining our team! Certified lifeguards can apply online for a position in our recreation centers. Not yet certified? Learn more about becoming a lifeguard.  
FREE Water Safety Lessons for Mary Helen Thomas Day

Mary Helen Thomas was instrumental in promoting water safety and learn to swim programs in the Tidewater area. Her aquatic career dates back to 1957 when she started teaching out of the YWCA in Norfolk. They didn't have a pool, so she taught in the open water of the Ocean View Beaches, at the Cavalier Hotel, and at private pools. Under her leadership, the YWCA swim program taught lessons to approximately 1,000 people annually.


Mary Helen was such an integral part of the YWCA that when she retired, they retired their aquatics program. She received many awards throughout her career and is honored by having the Mary Helen Thomas Racial Justice Award named after her for having broken down the racial barriers within the swimming community in the 1960s. In addition, her peers started a special fund in her name for promoting water safety in the Tidewater area, and we honor her memory through the Mary Helen Thomas Day of Water Safety in June.


Free water safety lessons for ages 4-12 will be held:

- Saturday, June 7 | 12:30 - 2 pm | Seatack Rec Center | (757) 437-4858
- Saturday, June 7 | 12:30 - 2 pm | Williams Farm Rec Center | (757) 385-2950

- Sunday, June 8 | 1 - 2:30 pm | Kempsville Rec Center | (757) 474-8492

- Sunday, June 8 | 1 - 2:30 pm | Princess Anne Rec Center | (757) 426-0022


Swim lesson scholarships and other prizes will be raffled off at each site. To register, please call the location of your choice by June 2. 

Swim Tip Video Clip: Catch Up Drill


The Catch Up Drill is one of many drills that can help improve your freestyle stroke technique no matter what level swimmer you are. It's easily incorporated into a workout and can be placed in the warm-up, main set or cool down. The drill focuses on distance per stroke, length, width, depth and acceleration. Check out the drill in action in this video.


Freestyle Catch Up Drill


1. Push off the wall in a streamline position and start your freestyle.


2. Stroke one hand at a time while keeping the non-stroking arm extended in front of your body.


3. Allow the stroking arm to catch up to the extended arm before beginning your next arm stroke.

Recognizing Our College Graduates


The Aquatics Unit has several employees that are graduating from college this month and quite a few more that are graduating from high school that we will highlight in June. We're very proud of their accomplishments and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors! 

Melissa Gonzales Carroll, lifeguard and instructor at Princess Anne, is graduating from Christopher Newport University. 

Nicole de Cristoforo, lifeguard and instructor at Kempsville, is graduating from Old Dominion University with a bachelor's in elementary education and will be continuing at Old Dominion for her master's. 
Kelly Cummings, lifeguard, instructor and dive coach at Princess Anne, is graduating from Regent with her master's degree in counseling. 
Brittany Jaress, lifeguard and instructor at Seatack, is graduating from the University of Maryland, University College with a Bachelor of Arts in teaching secondary education. 

Matt Krask, lifeguard at Great Neck, is graduating from Old Dominion University with a degree in communications.

Kira Lopez, lifeguard, instructor and swim coach at Princess Anne, is graduating from Old Dominion University and will be moving to Alaska.
Martin Moke, lifeguard at Princess Anne, is graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University and will be going to Pharmacy School.
Seanelle Thom, lifeguard, instructor and swim coach at Kempsville, is graduating from Norfolk State University with a bachelor's in exercise science.
Justin Vinneau, lifeguard and instructor at Williams Farm, is graduating from Old Dominion University.
Alexandra Yerkes, lifeguard at Seatack, is graduating from Sweetbriar College and will be going to Virginia Tech to further her studies in veterinary medicine.
Please Note Our Upcoming Facility Closures


Bow Creek Recreation Center is closed for a long-term modernization project
The gym at Great Neck Recreation Center will be closed through May 26 while the divider walls are repainted. 
All Virginia Beach Recreation Centers, Owl Creek Tennis Center, and administrative offices will be closed on Monday, May 26 for Memorial Day. Parks will be open!


Don't forget that your membership is good at all Virginia Beach Recreation Centers! If your usual center is closed, take the opportunity to visit another center. Use this locator to help you find one!

Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation believes all of our diverse citizens have a right to participate in community recreation and we are committed to creating equal access for everyone who may have a challenge or barrier. If you or your child requires additional support, we can help. Learn more about our accommodation and inclusion services.
We welcome your comments and questions. Feel free to email us at
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Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is accredited by CAPRA,
the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association.