PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Hundreds of “future swimmers” turned out at four Allegheny County pools Tuesday morning, on the opening day for free swimming lessons.

The wave pool at Boyce Park is one of them.

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One by one, lifeguards took beginners into the shallow end of the pool. It was a day for determining the experience level of each entrant. Lessons will continue, Tuesdays and Thursdays, through July.

Lifeguard Rachel Barkey says teaching is her favorite part of the job.

“It’s important to get them to get in the water early, and to be comfortable with the water, so they’re not scared of it,” she said. “It’s very important to get kids to know how to swim. That makes our job easier.”

Lifeguard Danny Bergless says classes are limited to people 5 years of age and older.

“It’s very good to start early, but we just had a woman who was like 40, but she was so happy to be here. She’s crossing things off her bucket list, and trying to swim,” said Bergless.

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Kim Mena of Wilkinsburg says she’s determined to learn.

“Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, I tried to learn to swim, but I never trusted the water. In eighth grade, I had a little situation, and I lost control of a flotation device,” said Mena.

She never went back in the water – until now.

There’s a “slight” difference in age between Mena and her5-year-old niece, Tamari, another student, which could turn into a rivalry of sorts. But Tamari’s aunt says she’s learning more than swimming strokes.

“I’ll learn not to be afraid,” she said.

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