Return of freshman aquatics creates controversial splash

The swimming pool at Staples High School is used for freshmen aquatics and other student extra curricular activities

Photo by Poppy Harrington ’25

The swimming pool at Staples High School is used for freshmen aquatics and other student extra curricular activities

Freshman aquatics is a mandated course that is controversial from several angles; while swimming provides physical benefits and may teach valuable life skills, it can also cause problems with body image and self-confidence.

 

Physical education and health classes are required for freshman students. Each quarter freshman attend a different gym class: health, mind and body, team activities and aquatics. In these classes, students partake in new activities that serve different purposes. While the majority of students don’t mind the other physical education classes, aquatics appears to cause the greatest controversy.

 

According to the Staples High School homepage, The Health and Physical Education Program is dedicated to the lifelong goal of fitness and health. Our goal as a department is for students to become competent in all activities, and proficient in the activities they choose to pursue through high school and beyond.”

 

Swimming is an important life skill that is beneficial to one’s health and fitness. It is an exercise that improves endurance, muscles and the cardiovascular system while not putting much pressure on an individual’s joints. 

Although the aquatics class does provide students with an opportunity to improve a vital skill, many students feel uncomfortable around their classmates in a swimsuit, which can lead to negative body images and self esteem. ”

— Poppy Harrington ’25

“Since I’ve started working for aquatics I’ve seen how many kids are not comfortable getting in the water at all,” Staples lifeguard Danillo Sierra-Giraldo said.  “I think it’s a good way to challenge themselves and be better at swimming because everyone needs to know how to swim.” 

 

Although the aquatics class does provide students with an opportunity to improve a vital skill, many students feel uncomfortable around their classmates in a swimsuit, which can lead to negative body images and self esteem. 

 

According to Sacred Heart’s Athletics and Wellness Center, “Female swimmers, in particular, struggle as early as childhood, which can lead to serious life-long issues such as poor body image and disordered eating. The challenges only mount when navigating these complexities in bathing suits.”

 

Some students argue that the class is irrelevant, as the aquatics course teaches basic skills that most freshmen already know.

 

“I didn’t enjoy aquatics class because I felt like it was basic swimming material that everyone already knew, and after I would have to walk around school with wet hair,” Abby Epstein ’25 said. 

 

Another downside is that students have limited time to get ready, which results in tardies for their next-period class. 

 

“Students were told that they were guaranteed a minimum of 12 minutes to shower each day, however, throughout the course, I realized that we have five minutes if we are lucky,” Emerson Dodge ’25 said. 

 

Regardless, it appears that Aquatics is here to stay at Staples High School, despite the constant debate it sparks over its advantages and disadvantages