USMS has declared the month of April to be Adult-Learn-to-Swim month. So, the Oregon LMSC hosted three programs this year: in Hood River, Corvallis and Oregon City. Each of the reports that follow is written by those who worked in the various programs.
The Adult-Learn-to-Swim program in Hood River was in its 4th year in 2019, so our Columbia Gorge Masters group and the staff at the Hood River Valley Aquatic Center have seen the cumulative benefits for our community. This year we had over 50 participants and some were repeat customers as they try to improve their water safety and swimming skills. We have had about 25 Masters swimmers volunteer each year and most keep returning to teach because it is such a fulfilling volunteer activity.
To take the ‘I am afraid of the water’ non swimmer or the ‘not afraid of the water but have not put face in water’ and to get them into the big pool with head under water and taking a few strokes is exciting for both the teacher and swimmer. Some of these people never thought they were capable of swimming, but they proved themselves wrong, and their confidence soared. Our aquatics director emphasized the importance of congratulating and high-fiving our participants just like we would kids, and she was right, the adults thrived on their accomplishments and being congratulated on them.
The basic non-swimmers who could at the end of five lessons jump into the deep water, retrieve a ring off the bottom of the pool, tread water, and get themselves to the side of the pool was amazing, fulfilling to see, and a real morale booster for these participants. This is a program that is very much worth hosting at your pool!
The sense of camaraderie and pride in accomplishment that our adults who learn to swim or improve their swimming is inspiring. It is not that often in everyday life that you get to witness folks doing something that they are not sure that they can do – and then they learn that they really can conquer their fears. The pool is full of cheers and smiles and we have had groups of students who have progressed over years — and they are so happy to be at swim lessons!
We leave the deep end lane empty so everyone can get a chance to jump into 7 feet of water, tread water and swim back to the side. This year we set up the rope swing and we had adults on it, doing Tarzan calls before jumping into the water. They had a blast!
I had a woman this year that brought her newly retired father, who has some health challenges, to lessons to improve his swimming with an eye to swimming for fitness. He went from barely being able to swim freestyle across the pool to being very comfortable and mastering freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. Watching them learn together was heart-warming.
I know that I love to share my joy of swimming with others, and it is a great community service to volunteer to help adults learn to swim.
Teaching Adult Learn-to-Swim has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. To see adults overcome their fear of water and learn to embrace water with a renewed affinity to the water is heartwarming. All these adults learn to swim basic freestyle and backstroke, and we spend a fair amount of time on water safety. The majority of those who take this class emphasize that they want to protect their children during aquatic activities while also allowing themselves to finally participate in activities around water. I am so proud of these individuals; that their fear of water became a warm embrace is indescribable.