Richard has always been afraid of the water, so swim lessons have been a no-go for the past several decades. A recent fall into deep water (while wearing a life vest), however, made him realize that if he wanted to be able to prevent himself from drowning, he had to face his fears and learn to swim.
It helped that Richard already knew – and loved – his instructor Jennifer. The two used to work together, so when he mentioned that he wanted to learn to swim, she immediately said, “I’ll teach you!” Richard followed Jennifer to the J, and was pleased to learn the facility is only about 15 minutes from his home. “Jennifer is great,” Richard said. “I was fearful of putting my head in the water but she’s helped me overcome those fears.” In just ten lessons, he’s gone from not being able to float to swimming 25 yards freestyle with rhythmic breathing.
Richard’s goal with learning to swim has shifted from a negative mindset (“not being afraid of the water anymore”) to a positive one (“being able to swim confidently”). “It’s something good in life,” he said. “In case of an emergency, you can rescue someone if you know how to swim.”
“The Water Will Hold Me Up”
Richard isn’t the only swimming student Jennifer has seen the “lightbulb moment” with. Here’s Fiona’s story, in Jennifer’s own words:
“I teach swim lessons. A lot of swim lessons. Adults, kids, toddlers. Currently I have this one 4-year-old girl named Fiona. Fiona is a little spit fire! When children take lessons from me, I always have the parents fill out an information sheet and I ask, ‘Is there anything I need to know about your child?’ Dad wrote, ‘She is overconfident of her abilities.’
Boy is that an understatement!
In teaching her back float, she yells “Let me go!”, floats for a bit and then does a back flip. When teaching her rhythmic breathing, she almost turned her head completely around like an owl! It was really hard to maintain a straight face!
So today, her achievement was swimming backstroke 25 yards that placed us at the deep end of the pool.
She was afraid to let go of me, that she would sink. I reassured her swimming in deep water was the same as shallow water and she would be ok. She tests letting go of me, paddling around and looks at me and lets out this long ‘Ahhhhhh! I’M SWIMMING AND NOT SINKING!’
This was her lightbulb moment that I have missing seeing since I left the classroom.
Boasted by her very recent achievement, she decides to swim to the other end freestyle, totally confident that she can make the entire 25 yards. Me? I’m not so sure, but I cheer her on.
She made it back to the other end with one stop to observe the glory of the bottom of the pool and to inform me how cool it was.
She is such a joy to teach, she oozes giggles, wiggles, smiles, love, and is just pure joy.
As she left today I told her she would get to jump in the deep end next week. Her chocolate brown eyes widened and filled up her goggles and she squealed, ‘And I won’t sink, because the water will hold me up!’
Yes Fiona, yes it will.”