It was years ago when I knew I wanted to really pursue aquatics. I don’t know if there was an individual moment or not, but I do remember the people that encouraged me.
As a little kid, my parents encouraged my sister and me to finish all our swimming lessons. Yes: preschool to Swim Kids 10. I knew at that point I wanted to keep going. I tried a program through a nearby pool that allowed me to volunteer in the lesson, plan activities and get involved. I was inspired by the teachers around me, the encouraging staff and I adored children. I had a fire in me to see a kid become excited to get in the pool. I remember one little girl didn’t like putting her face in the water, so I swam underneath her so she could look at me! She was sold on me being her favourite from that point on. However it was not just the kids that made me pursue this, it was the other staff that motivated me. Growing up in aquatics, you have your favourite instructors. But becoming one of them, becoming part of their tribe is like being apart of a family. Some of my best summers were spent bonding with people while freezing and laughing in the pool for hours. When I started doing the courses, my circle expanded more. My best friend and I did the old lifeguarding program of Assistant Water Safety Instructor and then Water Safety Instructor. I was the kid who completed the course on crutches. I was determined to be an Instructor and I had a best friend who helped me through despite the odds.
I’m often asked however why I did not go as far as being a lifeguard. While I thought it was cool, and maybe one day will be, I also found it gave me more anxiety and I saw a greater need for Instructors. Why? Well Instructors are the ones who spend hours at the pool, they teach kids and sometimes adults for many hours back to back, they claim chlorine to be a perfume, and they need to do the paperwork to stay on top of teaching and report cards. Many lifeguards will opt out of teaching. They don’t find the same enjoyment. However, I adore it. So I focus on it. My favourite levels to teach are the Babbies with their parents, sea stars who are just starting on their own, and older levels like Swim kids 9/10 or bronze courses for beginning lifesavers. I love every kid I teach, but I find joy in the first steps in loving the water with kids, or their last steps encouraging them to pursue this career I am in. My biggest goal as an instructor is to inspire your child.
So, if I teach at a public pool, why do I teach privately? Simple: I saw a need and I fixed it. When I was 17, a family asked if I would teach in their back yard, they had kids who needed more individualized attention. They also had kids with a fear of the water, and private instructing offers those kids, the ability to go more at their pace and learn to be comfortable, instead of either forcing your child to join the group, or to sit out and watch. These can both be good things, but I give more flexibility when I am teaching independently. The following summer, more people were looking for an instructor, and ever since, I have developed a program for a need that some families have.
So why have I not been drawn away from the screaming and crying kids? Why does it not bother me when your child doesn’t want to get in yet? I do this job because I know kids have fears, adults do too. I’m not afraid to be cold or find a new way to inspire your child. Teaching is my passion, the kids of this generation need people who are willing to meet them where they are at. So yes, I get cold, yes, my ears may hurt, and yes, the hours are long. But it is 100% worth it. Your child is worth it. I teach for their future in loving aquatics.