My Dad taught me to swim at a very young age. He says “2,” but I just remember always being able to swim. When I was 6, we moved to Chicago and I joined our city’s summer swim team. I cleaned up. Not only in the 6 year old and under events, but the 7/8 too! By the time I was 8, my Dad taught me to be an avid snorkeler. When I was 12, I became certified to SCUBA dive. My Dad had moved to The Keys, so I had many opportunities to explore my new hobby. Water was my element. I loved the way I was weightless and my body could move as if I were flying. I continued to swim competitively through high school, and was offered a college scholarship my senior year. Although I turned it down (my parents were thrilled, as you can imagine), my love for the water had become part of who I was.
Fast forward until I had my first of three sons, Andrew. He did not have this natural love of the water I seemed to have. In fact, when he was 3 1/2, he was still terrified! It killed me! There was so much for him to explore, and he was missing out! So I set out trying to teach him how to swim, as my Dad did with me. I was wildly unsuccessful. “No, Mommy! You’ll drown me!” I could barely get him in the pool with me, even with his floaties on! We were young parents and did not have money to pay for lessons. My strategy? I began lifeguarding and teaching lessons at the local Y, so he could take lessons with someone else for free.
That point was pivitol for me. I LOVED teaching these other kids how to successfully move in the water! It was so rewarding, that by the time our other 2 sons, Hunter and Spencer, were born, I was teaching lessons at our local Y again, and in the summer, I taught my friends’ kids to swim for free. Every summer, I would run lessons. Every summer, kids and parents would show up. Eventually, I started to charge. The years went by. After year 20, I asked my husband, “Babe, when do you think I’ll be done teaching?” He said, “I don’t know. How ’bout when you don’t enjoy it anymore?” I shrugged and decided that was a good suggestion.
Well, I still love it! But it has grown beyond my capacity. Several years ago, we had to start turning people away. And I hated that. So, I made the decision; I needed to train up the next generation; pass down my craft, and teach them all the extra things only experience can teach. And so TRUGrit Swim Gym was born. As you can imagine, I am very particular about the instructors I allow to teach my students. Because I know that teaching kids to swim is not just knowing what they need to do, or how to do it yourself. The magic lies in knowing where the child’s abilities and fears intersect, and guiding them past that point in a way they realize they did it themselves.
I would be remiss if I didn’t confess that all of my grown boys are excellent swimmers, although not by my doing, as none of them would allow me to teach them. Funny how that works sometimes. None of them enjoyed competing, so that stopped around middle school when I could no longer effectively bribe them. But they all love to snorkel, and are excellent divers. Our middle son is actually quite an accomplished spear-fisherman, which is amazing to watch, and always a nice treat when we are in The Keys together. I love that my Dad has passed down this love of the water to his family, and I hope you will allow us to help pass this down to your family as well. Thanks, Dad.