Support for swimming program at SunUte center requested

Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:03 PM
Robin Duffy-Wirth, left, Abel Velasquez and Josh the Otter discuss swimming programs for Bayfield students at Tuesday night’s school board meeting. SunUte Community Center has offered swimming lessons during school for the past 15 years.

Bayfield and Ignacio schools are on the forefront of swimming education because all students receive swim lessons during school.

Staff from SunUte Community Center came to the meeting of the Bayfield School Board on Tuesday to discuss their swimming programs for students and request funding from the district.

They presented their new mascot, Josh the Otter, who teaches drowning prevention.

Across the U.S., 10 people a day die in swimming pools, and drowning is the most prevalent form of accidental death in the U.S. for children 1 to 4 years old.

Drowning can take place in just a few seconds, and it is silent, said Robin Duffy-Wirth, director of the center.

Bayfield students have been taking swim lessons at SunUte for 15 years, said Abel Velasquez, aquatics director at SunUte.

“Formal swim lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent,” he said.

SunUte has taught more than 100,000 swim lessons, reaching about 1,000 students a year, Duffy-Wirth said.

Bayfield students take eight lessons over two weeks in the second, fourth and sixth grades.

SunUte will continue to request funding from the school district to help pay for the costs, she said. More information about drowning prevention is at

The board also received a request for $6,000 for the Bayfield High School Earth Club to expand the recycling programs.

The district started recycling in 2008, and local steps are important to help reduce the 2.12 billion tons of waste produced annually around the world, said Andrew Stumpf, a member of the club.

The club raises funds by selling reusable shopping bags and recycling printer cartridges, said adviser Roxanne Henderson. The club would like to get more recycling bins around the gym and stadium to recycle single-use bottles at sporting events.

The board also accepted a resignation by Peggy Whiteman, who was elected to the board in November but is moving out of Colorado.

Three people have inquired about the board opening, said Brooke LaVenture, the board’s secretary.

Letters of interest to fill the position should be dropped off at the district office or emailed to by 4 p.m. July 27.

This was the first board meeting for Kevin Aten, the new district superintendent. Aten said he’s toured all of the school buildings and met with most district directors.

“The community has been amazing” in welcoming Aten to his new position, he said.

The board also approved the hiring of Ken Hibbard as the head baseball coach at Bayfield High School for the 2018-19 season.