WEST BLOOMFIELD — Before there was Michael Phelps, there was Lenny Krayzelburg.
As a swimmer who brought home the gold medal four times in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, Krayzelburg knows a thing or two about how to swim safely and effectively.
This January, he hopes to impart those skills to a new generation when he brings the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy to the West Bloomfield Jewish Community Center Jan. 27.
According to the JCC, the public can see the swimmer’s visit for free, and his appearance will launch a week of free swimming evaluations. The academy’s swimming lessons will then start Feb. 3.
According to West Bloomfield JCC Aquatics Director Ronda Brodsky, Krayzelburg designed the swim academy, and it’s his goal to make the program standard in Jewish community centers across America.
Unlike the current method of teaching kids how to swim, Krayzelburg’s method divides the experience into shorter lessons that concisely teach swim mechanics and survival, Brodsky said.
Both the West Bloomfield and Oak Park JCCs expect to be franchisees of the swim academy’s class structure. Brodsky praised the program for its innovative framework.
“The other good thing about this program is they have rewards,” she said. “Any kid who signs up will get a swim book. After every lesson, they get a sticker or medal or ribbon, depending on where they are in their levels. The kids love it.”
JCC organizers say that learning to swim can save young lives because drowning is one of the biggest killers of kids younger than 5 years old. Brodsky estimated that about 50-200 students per year participate in the center’s current swimming program, not including camps.
Judy Front, the Oak Park JCC director of the Center Splash program, said the swim academy will teach kids to have more fun and less fear in the water. She said the program will last year round, once it gets started, and it won’t be the last time Krayzelburg visits the JCC.
“(He) will be visiting us at least once a year, which will be another exciting draw for students and potential students, getting to meet a real Olympic swimmer,” Front said in an email.
Krayzelburg could not be reached for comment at press time.
Krayzelburg will bring his swim academy to the JCC, 6600 W. Maple Road, noon-2 p.m. Jan. 27. He also intends to visit the JCC’s Oak Park campus, 15110 W. 10 Mile Road, 3-5 p.m. that same day.
Visit www.jccdet.org or call (248) 661-5430 to find out more about the JCC’s Aquatics Department. Learn more about the swim academy at www.lennykswim.com.
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