The walls surrounding Liverpool High School's pool are lined with names and dates -- each signifying championships won by past and present swimmers.
Earning those accolades, though, often has started well before students reach high school. It starts with swim lessons where children learn the basics of strokes and form. The swim lesson program is particularly essential for third-graders who are privy to a free block of seven lessons.
"Once they're in it, they're in it for life," said Brandon Genalo, Liverpool's swim lesson program director and assistant coach for the high school girls varsity swim team.
According to Genalo, the program used to draw huge crowds, but has tapered off in recent years.
"We're making a big push this year," he said. "These things are available for all third-graders. Our lesson program is great."
While lessons are open to children ages 7 and up during the school year, third grade can register for a block of free lessons. Registration for the fall program will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday Oct. 7 for third-graders only and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday Oct. 16, Nov. 13, March 12 and April 9 for all others at the LHS pool. Classes will be limited to eight children per class and registration is first come, first serve.
"I wouldn't be anywhere [near] the person I am today without going through the Liverpool swim program," Genalo said.
The program not only offers a chance for kids to learn how to swim, but is a chance for exercising and building friendships that last through high school and often well beyond. Genalo, who is a certified social studies teacher, is a graduate of Liverpool and went through the swim program, much like the students who teach lessons. Because of its rich history, he wants to see the program continue to be successful.