In the center of almost every community is something that brings us closer as a people, a crystal blue swimming pool, the heart of the neighborhood. This place is more than just a fancy amenity to these folks; it’s one of the few places where people can exercise in a way that connects them with their neighbors. Pools create unity, friendships, recreation and a whole lot of fun. This face-to-face contact with those who live close to us, takes us away from our computers and cellular phones to socialize and form relationships, the key to happy, productive lives.
The pools I grew up in had strong leadership and I learned a lot in the local aquatic facility. People like me started out young as swimmers. Our passion grew into our profession. I learned to swim at the age of four and I have been swimming ever since. I looked up to my swimming teacher and he deserved my respect. A few months after he taught me the freestyle, my mom showed me an article that he had advanced to the Olympic time trials.
The next step for me was swim team, and in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina, I embarked on racing for the Stonebridge Stingrays, my local swim team. Swim caps, starter blocks, blank pistols, time clocks, and megaphones all came in to play. Neighborhood pitted against neighborhood, with swim practice every morning and night. This is when swimming got serious for me. I made a lot of friends during my summers on the swim team, and we were the most athletic kids on the block. Forget video games, and being a couch potato, we were having fun in the sun.
I looked up not only to the swim coaches and lifeguards but also to the pool manager. I was fortunate enough to have a neighborhood club that invested in its staff and had top notch training. I saw firsthand what it means to have exceptional programming at my neighborhood pool. Eventually, when I was eighteen years old, I became a pool manager which included earning my Certified Pool /Spa Operator® certification. I ran my own swimming pool program including lessons, staffing and swim team. Progressing through the ranks of the local aquatic facility made me who I am today, not to mention creating real, lasting friendships along the way. I engaged in teaching people how to swim and how to enjoy the water, but perhaps most importantly, I connected with my community.
What has swimming done for you? Chances are if you’re reading this article, swimming means a lot to you. How do we make sure today’s children have the same pool experience we had?
The answer is simple: teach children how to swim.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the same opportunities for personal growth and community connectedness that come with learning to swim. Each year, the US gives over $298 billion dollars to charity. They do it because they care about their fellow man and they want to make a difference in the world. People tend to give to charities that are aligned with their own values. For many of us, we grew up at the local pool, and we learned so much about ourselves and our communities by jumping into the water with our friends.
Donate to a cause that is close to your heart and has helped mold your profession. Invest in the future of our industry and train the professionals of tomorrow to meet the increased demand for aquatics. It all starts with a swimmer, and everyone wins when more swimmers are in the water.
Recently, the National Swimming Pool Foundation, in partnership with the Red Cros..., taught 500 children to swim by offering free swimming lessons to those that can’t afford it. As part of this initiative, the Step into Swim™ campaign funded the certification of the instructors whom taught the participants. These instructors will continue to teach people how to swim and make a lasting difference in their community. With your help, these efforts can be duplicated in other neighborhoods in need.
When you give to the Step Into Swim Campaign, you can truly make a difference in the life of a child who has never learned the lifelong skill of swimming. If you care about swimming, community, health, and the future of our industry, make a tax deductible donation now atwww.stepintoswim.org. The National Swimming Pool Foundation will match your contribution dollar for dollar.
Please, help us create one million new swimmers!