Fundraiser underway for VPD’s free swim lesson program, rowing club

The Vashon Park District’s new free swimming lesson program is underway, and an island-wide raffle has been organized to help raise funds to keep it going.

Vashon Swim for All is the brainchild of Vashon Park District (VPD) Aquatics Director Scott Bonney, who saw a need to offer swim lessons specifically for those who cannot swim or may not feel comfortable, or able, to afford traditional group swim lessons, typically geared toward kids. The program kicked off with the Vashon Pool’s opening in late May, but got off to a slow start due to the pool’s broken boiler. It has since been fixed, and Bonney said the program will be ramping up this month.

“We have had a few people come, and it’s been good for both kids and adults,” he said. “I’m confident it will be a popular program.”

Initially, the program offered low-cost lessons ($8.40 per lesson on a drop-in basis), but Bonney later decided to make the program free with funds coming exclusively from private donations. He said his initial estimates projected the program to cost roughly $4,000 to run through this summer, and he was able to get donors to pledge that much, but the amount could change depending on its popularity and if the program continues beyond the summer. He hopes it will.

With that in mind, islander CC Stone, one of the program’s funders, decided to raffle off a week-long stay on her Amsterdam houseboat — along with bike rentals and $2,000 cash for plane tickets or other expenses. Tickets are $50 each, and $4,000 of the raffle ticket proceeds will go toward future Swim for All programming. The remaining amount will go to the Vashon Island Rowing Club (VIRC) to help with boat purchases and other expenses. A total of 500 tickets will be sold.

“There is a one in 500 chance. That’s a heck of a lot better odds than the Washington State Lottery,” Joe Wubbold, another one of the program’s funders, said.

VIRC’s Mary Rothermel said Monday that a total of $8,557 had been raised so far: $4,000 is going to Swim for All, and $2,000 is going to the prize money. The remaining roughly $2,000 is going to VIRC. But that amount is far from the club’s goal.

“We still have a ways to go,” Rothermel said.

There are roughly 150 tickets left, and they must be picked up in-person. Those interested in buying tickets can visit the Jannetty hair salon in the Vashon Landing building at the corner of Bank Road and Vashon Highway or contact the rowing club at or A winner will be announced at Passport to Pain’s barbecue Sept. 9. The winner does not have to be present to claim the prize.

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