LIHUE — Sara Funtanilla, finishing the year as a freshman at Waimea High School, had the task of learning how to be a teacher when Mokihana Aquatics Coach Orlando “O” Anaya became a victim of a virus and flu.
Anaya heads the popular Learn to Swim classes which started Thursday at the Kauai High School pool, but was not able to attend because of his illness.
“We couldn’t cancel classes because we have so many young kids signed up,” Anaya said. “I had to ask for help, or the class would have been canceled. Coach Kelsey Tanaka took over the responsibility of being in charge, and Sara Funtanilla, one of the Mokihana swimmers, became the lead teacher. She did fabulous because I got a lot of emails praising the young girl.”
“I know we’re short-handed, so I am helping,” said Katy Hoesel, a sixth grader who assumed the role of lifeguard on deck with fellow swimmer Tyler Tanaka, another sixth grade student. “It’s not hard work, and we can help out.”
Kelsey said the little lifeguards go through the same lifeguard certification classes and learn along with the older students. The difference is they cannot be certified because of their age.
“They are monitors of the activity going on in the pool,” the coach in charge said. “As much as I can say I can monitor the whole pool, I can’t do it by myself. These are extra eyes and ears in the event of emergency.”
Manu Dizon was watching his granddaughter, Lehiwa Jansons, go through the Learn to Swim Tiny Tots ‘Ohana Keiki class. He waved back at the youngster who frolicked through the exercises of blowing bubbles, stroking and kicking.
“It’s good the kids learn how to swim,” Dizon said. “We’re surrounded by water, and everyone spends a lot of time near the water. They need to be safe.”
Funtanilla said she was a little apprehensive about being put in such a responsible position.
“I was nervous at first,” the Waimea sophomore said. “But it was exciting at the same time because this is the first time I get to lead a class. I had to learn how to be a teacher.”
She said she’ll probably do this for most of the summer because there are more classes scheduled.
Learn to Swim classes are intended for youth 5 years and older. ‘Ohana Keiki is for young people 6 weeks to 35 months, and Tiny Tots are for youngsters 3 and 4 years old.
There are Learn to Swim Classes starting June 16 to June 28, and July 4 to July 15.
Info: www.mokihanaaquatics.com, or 821-0587