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Rugby pool available for summer heat relief

By Sue Sitter - | Jul 3, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Swimming instructors Lauren Casavant, back left, and Ethan Brandt, right, encourage their young group as they practice the crawl stroke.

Since early June, Rugby’s swimming pool has seen a steady stream of users from near and far seeking relief from the heat, exercise or lessons in water safety.

“We do a lot of private lessons,” said Bonnie Berginski, who manages the pool and teaches lessons to youngsters individually and in groups. “We do one on one instruction with Rugby kids, and also from the surrounding areas, even as far as 70 to 80 miles away,” Berginski noted.

“They’re coming from all over because they like the one-week sessions,” Berginski said. “They like the indoor sessions because a lot of the smaller pools are outdoor. With the weather, it can be a problem.”

Indoor pools offer opportunities for enjoyment rain or shine, according to Berginski.

“Swimming lessons have been going well,” Berginski said. “With the group sessions, there aren’t a lot of kids involved in those and we wish that we had a little more kids involved in those, but it’s kept the class sizes small, except for the level one classes; those are larger.”

“It’s not too late to register for a session,” Berginski added. “For the group sessions, we have one more coming up. It’s July 5 through the 16.

Berginski said those wishing to sign up for lessons “can register for that yet at the pool or by calling or texting me. Texting works better because I’m busy at the pool so much. If they text me, we can set up with a group or private lesson.”

“We’re teaching basic learn to swim classes from the Red Cross. They’re certified courses through the Red Cross training program,” Berginski added.

Berginski said she’s noticed more people using the pool this year than in 2020 due to COVID restrictions being lifted.

“We’re not really having any COVID restrictions right now,” Berginski said. “We want to still follow some safety protocols. So, we still do increase the number of cleanings during the day. We want everyone to bag their things, keep them all together, keep them out of the locker rooms, that kind of thing, so we can do cleaning when we need to.”

The Rugby pool has 14 lifeguards and seven water safety instructors on its staff this year, Berginski said.

On a typical weekday morning, the instructors each take a section of the pool to teach small but eager groups of young swimmers.

“We teach six levels of Red Cross swim lessons,” Berginski said. “They go from beginners to the more advanced classes. The more advanced class is more distance swimming. Each level builds on the other. You start out floating, then you add the crawl, the backstroke, the breast stroke and the butterfly and diving.”

Instructors Ethan Brandt and Lauren Casavant worked with a group of intermediate-level eight- and nine-year-olds in the deeper end of the pool on a warm weekday morning recently. Both gave their class encouragement as the youngsters crossed the pool in a group, practicing the crawl stroke.

“I teach a variety of levels. It depends on what I’m assigned to teach, really, but mostly older kids,” Brandt said. “This is my fourth year that I’ve been a lifeguard, but this is going to be my third year teaching.”

“It’s fun to teach the little kids to swim right and be safe. That’s the best part. I have plans to go to MSU and study sports science and rehab which is basically helping people, so this fits in that field,” Brandt said.

“Every other Friday, we have a test day. It’s always awesome to see the kids pass and see the joy on their faces,” Brandt added. “It’s really rewarding to know you did some good for someone else.”

Casavant said she was in her first year as a swimming instructor. “We couldn’t last year because of COVID. We couldn’t teach new WSI (water safety instructor) courses. So, I’m really liking it so far.”

“I don’t have the patience for little kids,” Casavant added with a smile, “But level three is perfect. They’re about eight or nine years old, so they listen very well.”

“I’m going to UND for biology. Maybe if I don’t become a doctor, I’ll become a biology teacher,” she said, smiling again. “That would be pretty fun.”

Berginski said in addition to lessons, the pool has open swim times set aside from 1 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on weekdays. The pool has open swim sessions from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

“We may add, if we can find time and there are enough people interested, a parent-toddler class,” Berginski added. “We might also add a 9 to 10:30 p.m. adult swim time, if there’s interest in that and we can find staff to (work as lifeguards).

Berginski said the pool opens at 6:30 a.m. for aquasize and lap swimming until 9 a.m.

“It’s just on your own exercising,” she said. “We have some equipment that you can use. We’re also doing it from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. During that time, the kids are also in the pool for private lessons.”

“For ages six and above the entrance fee for the afternoon session is $3,” Berginski added. “For ages five and under, it’s $2. For the evening session, it’s $2 for ages six and over and $1 for five and under.”

Berginski said the pool would be closed on the Fourth of July.

For more information about the pool or to sign up for the July 5-16 lessons, call Berginski at (701) 208-1448.

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