Swim lessons are often designed and encouraged for children, but not every child learns how to swim. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 37 percent of American adults cannot swim the length of a pool. The U.S. Masters Swimming charitable arm, the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, is working to lower the risk of adult drowning and improve long-term fitness by declaring the month of April “Adult Learn-to-Swim Month.” Since being established in 2010, the SSLF has provided grants to partners across the nation to provide adult learn-to-swim lessons in their community.
SAI’s Training Center in Savannah, Georgia, the Chatham County Aquatic Center, received a SSLF grant in October 2013, and has already had 68 adults complete the learn to swim program. Working with adult students has proven to have a number of differences than compared to working with children. “Many students have been so fearful of getting in the water; they do not even know how to hold their breath on land,” Chatham County Aquatic Center’s Aquatics Director, Misty Selph said. Teaching adults to let go of their fear of the water and to learn how to swim 50 yards prompted the development of a new adult learn to swim curriculum. Selph said she has enjoyed developing a specialized adult learn to swim curriculum alongside SAI’s Swim School Specialist, Jennifer White. Selph reported, “Working so closely with SAI has allowed us to develop the lessons in a way that we provide a realistic and attainable goal for the students.”
Since October, 68 adults have learned to swim at the Chatham County Aquatic Center. This month there are 30 adults enrolled in the program, with a wait list of 32 adults. Selph recognized the high demand for adult swim lessons, and she responded by asking those in the community to be trained as volunteer swim instructors. Seven volunteers have been trained as adult swim instructors through a custom course that offers both classroom and water instruction. Selph reports that it is not only the adults receiving the swim lessons who have benefited from the lessons, but it is also the volunteer instructors.“The instructors are so excited to work with other adults who are learning to swim for the first time,” reported Selph.