Adults jump in to swimming lessons

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It was on a sailboat in Jamaica that Yulanda Williams realized she needed to learn to swim.

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Instructor Michael White teaches Sabrina Morton (left) and Theresa Green how to swim during adult swimming lessons at the Wilson Branch Family Y.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Instructor Michael White teaches Sabrina Morton (left) and Theresa Green how to swim during adult swimming lessons at the Wilson Branch Family Y.

“We went out on this little sailboat, and I was like, ‘If this thing flips over, could I get back up? Would I be able to save myself?’ And the answer was no,” she said Thursday evening as she stood chest-deep in the indoor pool of the Wilson Family Y.

She and her family returned from the trip last month, and the next week she took her first swimming lesson.

Williams had been afraid of the water since she was 9 years old. That’s when she tried to save her 7-year-old brother from drowning, even though she couldn’t swim. Luckily, she and her brother were pulled to safety by another child, she said.

“I think I’ve had post-traumatic stress about swimming ever since then,” she said.

People who take lessons learn more than how to swim, said instructor Michael White. The students learn about water safety and how to stay calm in an emergency situation.

“They get more than swimming out of it,” he said.

Unlike children’s classes, which teach a set of objectives, the adult swim class is tailored to the needs of those in the class.

“We do whatever they want to learn. If they want to learn how to get comfortable, we help them do that,” White said. “These three ladies wanted to learn how to get comfortable in the water and learn the freestyle backstroke, so that’s what we’re working on.”

Theresa Green had a panic attack on her first day in swim class.

When she was 10, she was pushed into deep water. She had never been in a pool before.

“Being suspended like that seemed like it had been forever,” she said. “(The first day) was like reliving that bad experience all over again. But then as the days progressed, it got better.”

Last week she practiced floating on her back as White gently guided her.

Green said she urged her water-loving daughter, Tiana Green, 10, to take lessons because she wanted her to be safe.

“Then it was like, ‘Well, Mommy, I’m taking them, so why don’t you take them, too?’ ” she said.

Green said she is looking forward to spending more family time at the beach and on vacation now that she is comfortable in the water.

Sabrina Morton, who also is taking the adult class at the Family Y, said she had no reason to be afraid of the water growing up; she just was. Some of the fear has subsided as she has gotten older, and she hopes to reap the health benefits of swimming as part of her exercise routine. She said knowing how to swim will allow her to participate in more pool activities, too.

“I feel like it’s a lifetime lesson,” she said.

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Here’s where you can find swimming lessons:

Augusta Aquatic Center, 3157 Damascus Road: $50 for Richmond County residents, $55 nonresidents; 7-7:45 p.m.; sessions through Aug. 2; morning sessions are available 10-10:45 a.m. July 9-Aug. 2; augustaga.gov

Brigham Swim Center, 2463 Golden Camp Road; 6-6:50 p.m.; two-week sessions through Aug. 1; augustaga.gov

Wilson Branch Family Y, 3570 Wheeler Road; 8 a.m. or 7 p.m.; two-week sessions; $55 members, $85 others; thefamilyy.org

Aiken Family Y, 621 Trolley Line Road; 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. or 5:30-6:15 p.m.; $55 members, $85 others; thefamilyy.org

Kroc Center, 1833 Broad St.; 11-11:45 a.m. or 7:25-8 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays July 9-Aug. 1; $48 members, $88 others; www.krocaugusta.org

Smith-Hazel Recreation Center, 400 Kershaw St., Aiken; call for pricing and schedule; (803) 642-7634

WATER SAFETY TIPS
  • Learn to swim.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard.
  • Read and obey all rules and signs.
  • Children or inexperienced swimmers should wear a personal flotation device near water.
  • Be cautious of being too tired or cold, swimming too far from safety, getting too much sun or too much strenuous activity.
  • Set water-safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities; inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep.
  • Know the water environment and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth changes, obstructions and where entry and exit points are located.
  • Pay attention to weather forecasts. Stop swimming at the first sign of bad weather.
  • Enter the water feet first.
  • Dive only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions.
  • Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm.
  • Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to emergencies.

Source: www.redcross.org


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