PSA Announcement- Do you know how to swim?

I run because it’s cheaper than therapy.

I swim because I am good at it.  I didn’t say I was fast at it, just that I am good and natural at it.  I am comfortable in the water, I feel at one with the water, my mind goes completely blank when swimming lap after lap after lap, focusing all of my energy on the perfect stroke and breathing correctly.

Not everyone is comfortable in the water like I am.  Not everyone can swim 2000 yds in the pool without any practice/build-up/endurance training.  I would even venture to say that there are some of you who are deathly afraid of being in water over your head.

Do you know how to swim?  Do you know what to do if you fell in a body of water where you couldn’t touch the bottom?  What about if your child fell in and needed your help?

I started taking swim lessons in third grade and took them for 2 years, until I was proficient in all strokes (thank you mom!).  I then went on to join a synchronized swim team (yeah really! think ballet meets dance meets the pool).  In college I became certified to teach swimming.  I went on to teach hundreds of kids (and some adults) how to swim. 

I can vividly remember one lady who was deathly afraid of the water.  She had gone through the beginner course and it was now her turn to jump into a deep pool and swim to the side in order to graduate to the next level.  She jumped in and never came up.  I dove in, saw her SITTING on the bottom of the pool, parallazed with with fear, her muscles and body unable to move at all.  I dived down to help her up.  As soon as I touched her (more like grabbed her) she went from being frozen with fear to panicking with fear, flailing her arms and legs.  She was so scared that she was pushing me down in her effort to get to the surface for air.  I grabbed her anywhere I could, putting all my strength into a bear hug around her, and used all the power my legs could give me to bring us to the surface.  

I was a mere teenager at the time.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because it is Summer time and so many Summer activities focus around water, whether it is the pool, the lake, or the beach.  You may or may not get in the water.  Your children may or may not get in the water.  BUT, accidents can and do happen. It’s happened to me (my toddler) before.

If you don’t know how to swim, then I highly encourage you to take swim lessons.  You don’t have to know every stroke out there, you just have to be comfortable enough to take care of yourself, to able to help yourself (or someone else) if the occasion should arise.

I joined the Masters Swim Class at the local YMCA.  When I joined, I just thought I would get coached workouts and maybe a few pointers on my technique.  I have been going to the class now for 6 weeks and it’s so much more than I thought it would be.  I LOVE IT!  While I originally thought everyone there already knew how to swim and was there for the same reasons as me, I found out that several people didn’t even know how to swim one bit when they joined the class.  As everyone else was doing the workouts, they were getting 1×1 instruction from the coach and learning how to swim. How cool is that?

I asked one of the coaches for the top 3 reasons as to why someone should join a Masters Swim Class.  She said and I quote:

  1. Technique- making your swimstroke better
  2. Interval work- only way you will get faster is by doing interval work, comparable to doing speedwork for running
  3. Accountability/socialability- getting to know other swimmers

And my personal favorite and a direct quote from me: swimming is an awesome way to exercise. You use your entire body- upper and lower.  You never get sweaty and while your muscles might be tired from exertion, there is ZERO pounding on your joints. SCORE!

I really should have made this two posts, but whatever.

Anyhoo, all this to say that I hope that you take the time to look into swim lessons or even a Masters Swim Class if you don’t feel comfortable in the water.  Knowing how to swim is SO important.  Really.

And now, I will get off my soapbox : ).

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  • Jeanette

    At the age of 26 I admit i can’t swim. Growing up we didn’t spend much time around water (mom had an accident and doesn’t like to be around it now). I need to make it a priority because I do like being in the water as long as I can touch :)

    • Lisa

      Yes!  The water can be so much fun and it’s also great for cross training.

  • Trish

    This is great! I do know how to swim and so do my children. We are teaching Adam (6) and soon he will be too. We live not far from the beach and we have a pool in our backyard. We spend a lot of time at both places so it is very important that every knows how to swim. It also very important to know CPR as well. Things can happen in a split second, so it’s very important!

    • Lisa

      Awesome Trish!  I tihnk ALL kids should be taught how to swim, especially if you spend ANY amount of time near water.  Also, you are so right about CPR.  I haven’t taken a CPR class in FOREVER. Great reminder!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent reminder to us all.  I grew up around water and, like you, took all the classes up through lifeguarding (which I couldn’t take because I wasn’t old enough).  We had our kids in swim lessons from the time they were babies.  Now K is a phenomenal diver and D has swam on the school swim team for 2 years.  Hubs on the other hand – not a strong swimmer, but he knows enough to get himself out of trouble. 

    Bottom line, knowing how to be comfortable in the water is key.  You don’t have to learn to lifeguard, dive, or swim the butterfly, but you do need to know how to tread water and at least swim 25 yards.  You never know when something might happen.

    It’s also important to know basic CPR.  I’d encourage everyone out there to contact your local Red Cross and take the class.  You may literally save someone’s life one day.

    • Lisa

      Yes, yes, and YES!  Just to be comfortable in the water is key and to know enough to get yourself out of trouble.  Thanks Bari!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the information….I’m one of those people that never “really” learned to swim. My mom was petrified of water/swimming and never encouraged us to learn to swim. Here I am almost 46 and I can’t swim well enough to teach my son! Maybe I should sign both of us up for swim lessons this summer!

    • Lisa

      It is never too late to learn how to swim.  Do you and the kiddo a favor and sign yourself up- you will never regret it : ).

  • Joanna

    I was like you and took swimming classes while in school.  I, also, LOVE being in the water.  I’m not a big fan of swimming in the lake – but I feel so much safer knowing that if my kids play in the water…and something should happen..that I’m a strong enough swimmer to do something about it.

    Thanks for sharing this – wish there was a YMCA close to me.  :(