Eye of the Editors: Revising swimming unit

OPINION: The school should provide proper locker room facilities for students in P.E. if it insists on having a swimming unit.

Though swimming classes are obsolete at most high schools, Diamond Bar High School freshmen who take P.E. are required to complete the unit. Swimming for P.E. sounds fun in theory, but it is pointless because it doesn’t properly teach inexperienced students how to swim.

P.E. teachers are responsible for overseeing around 30-40 students all at different skill levels in the water. Once the students are separated into groups based on swimming skills, it’s hard to get students who are inexperienced to be comfortable in the water and to improve the skills of experienced students.

For students who can swim, they are required to swim laps during the time spent in the pool. Although it is good exercise, only a few students can really benefit from this, making the others feel like it is a waste of time.

The major component lacking from this unit is an actual swim instructor who can make sure that class time is being spent properly.

Not knowing how to swim at school after spending weeks in the pool is another reason why students feel frustrated. But the struggle to maneuver through the locker room and its strict rules is an even greater issue for students.

Many who take P.E. first period are forced to jump into the pool after spending an hour getting ready for school in the morning. What makes this worse is that students cannot thoroughly shower in the locker rooms after swimming. Although there are a row of shower heads in the locker room, students are only allowed a few seconds to rinse off in the outdoor showers next to the pool.

Even outside of the swimming portion of the class, students aren’t allowed to shower after sweating in P.E. The shower facilities are off limits, and students resort to washing their faces in the bathrooms. Not being allowed to wash off after any physical activity also affects others, as students exude body odor after a physical workout.

At one time, the school offered the option to shower after P.E. and sports competitions, but it got rid of that privilege after students didn’t take advantage of the option. However, this was the case several years ago; providing students with the option to shower is crucial.

Another problem with the swimming unit is dressing and undressing in the locker room. During adolescence, many teens are may deal with self-esteem issues. Having to fully undress from head to toe to put on swim gear can be an uncomfortable experience for some. These students turn to changing in the bathroom but are kicked out by the locker room staffers, because the stalls are restricted to students using the toilet.

By the end of the unit, students who know how to swim spend their time doing laps, and students who don’t know how to swim leave unable to swim or even float on their backs. After all the hassle that the students go through during the unit, it is unfortunate that this is all that is gained.

Although knowing how to swim is an important part of life, teens  should be responsible for learning how to in their own time. If the school insists on continuing the swimming portion of P.E., they should at least provide proper facilities, like showers, more swim instructors and places where students could change without feeling self-conscious. Then maybe the swimming unit would be worth it.

Editor’s Note: After publication of this editorial, a representative of the athletic department explained that shower facilities are available to all students in P.E. and in athletics, though no students utilize the facilities.