The cool summer waters that splash up on Bronx beaches have beckoned Dalia Escalera’s family for three generations.
“I have been coming to Orchard [Beach] since I was very young an it is something I wanted to share with them,” said Escalera, a Kingsbridge resident, as her grandchildren Sara and Daniel Laino, ages 3 and 5, ran through the sprinklers in the playground alongside the beach.
“I am also going to bring them for lessons at the Van Cortlandt Park pool this summer so they can learn to swim early. I waited too long when I was young and now I can only swim a little bit.” she added.
There are few parental instincts more primordial than teaching your child to swim. It is a rite of passage that existed centuries before tossing a teen the car keys for the first time, or removing the training wheels from a tot’s cherished bike.
“My kids love the water, so my husband and I figured that we wanted them to be able to swim,” said Bernadette Cara, whose son Anthony, 4, was taking a beginner’s class at the Riverdale YM-YWHA. Daughter Kayla comes to a more advanced class on Wednesdays.
Gidhalahy Estevez, a lifeguard at the Y and psychology major at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, said she has seen children become transformed in the water.
“A lot of kids are so terrified of the water in the beginning, but after they overcome it, they want to stay in the pool all day,” said Estevez. “Water is fun. It’s like a different environment for children. You can float.”
Whether it’s learning the proper stroke techniques at one of the neighborhood’s indoor pools, languishing away a July day at the Van Cortlandt Park pool, or desperately diving into the Orchard Beach surf to escape August’s burning sand, the neighborhood — and borough— have much to offer.
“Just look at her, she looks so happy,” said Jaslynne Medina, whose 6-year-old daughter Alyssa was one of many kids running under the cool water misters at Orchard Beach. “When she gets so covered with the water, it just cools her down.”
Below is a list of the local public and private location to swim in the neighborhood: