Swim school helps all ages conquer water

Former Crown Park pool manager provides year-round instruction

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Kathi Sjostrom, a former recreation coordinator and pool manager for the city of Camas, teaches 5-year-old Ella Eckman (left), 6-year-old Dane Hutton (center) and Thomas Eckman, 7 (right), in a semi-private swim class at her Camas home. Sjostrom opened Just Add Water Swim School this summer.

The former manager of the Crown Park pool in Camas has opened her own business, providing swimming lessons for children and adults.

Kathi Sjostrom worked for the city of Camas for more than 20 years — off and on from 1993 through 2015 — serving in a variety of roles, including recreation coordinator and pool manager. After her American Red Cross training, Sjostrom has taught water safety, swimming, lifeguarding, babysitting, adult and pediatric CPR and lifesaving classes.

The mother of four also has experience teaching physical education at Camas’ Liberty Middle School and Camas Christian Academy.

Now, Sjostrom is able to offer private, semi-private and small group swimming lessons at her home in Camas.

“When we moved, we purchased a home with an indoor pool, knowing we had the ability to run a small swimming- lesson program,” Sjostrom said.

The depth of the heated pool is 3.5 to 6 feet.

Sjostrom’s year-round business, which opened this summer, provides small group lessons for parents and tots, preschoolers and elementary-age children. Private and semi-private lessons are available for two individuals at a similar skill level in the same household.

Sierra Eckman, of Camas, and her sister, Melissa Hutton, of Washougal, bring their children to Sjostrom’s pool for swimming lessons.

Eckman, mother of Thomas, 7, and Ella, 5, said she likes the “family feel” of the business’ location.

A 2004 Washougal High School (WHS) graduate, Eckman worked for the city of Camas as a lifeguard at the Crown Park pool from 2002 to 2004 and Sjostrom was her boss.

“She’s just so wonderful with kids,” Eckman said of Sjostrom.

It was Eckman’s idea for the cousins to take swimming lessons together.

Hutton said that, with the closure of the pool in Crown Park this year, there are limited options for her son, Dane, 6, to take swimming lessons.

“I want him to feel confident in the water, and learn proper strokes,” she said. “Kathi is just phenomenal in connecting with kids and her knowledge of swim safety instruction.”

Hutton, a 2002 WHS graduate, plans to have Dane continue taking swimming lessons with Sjostrom through the fall and winter.

After finishing a recent swimming lesson, Dane said he needs to work on his elementary backstroke. Thomas said he wants to work on diving to the bottom of the pool for toys, and Ella said she just needs to work on not drinking the pool water.

For more information about the new Just Add Water Swim School, call 360-608-8106, email or visit