Natatorium offering swimming lessons for adults

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 10/7/17

Memorial Park Natatorium now offers swimming lessons for adults.

More than 40 adults have learned to swim in the past year thanks to a $3,000 grant …

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Natatorium offering swimming lessons for adults


Memorial Park Natatorium now offers swimming lessons for adults.

More than 40 adults have learned to swim in the past year thanks to a $3,000 grant from U.S. Masters Swimming's Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, Natatorium director Stacy Smothers said.

The grant, which was renewed in September, covers the cost of new equipment, pool usage and instructors' fees.

For $10, participants receive eight lessons, as well as a T-shirt, swim cap, goggles and membership to U.S. Masters Swimming.

“Everyone comes in at a different level,” said local U.S. Masters Swim Team coach Danny Arnold, who applied for the grant. “We have students come in who have a hard time letting go of the wall, and we have students who are comfortable in the water. We have one instructor for every three students, but there are some students we have to work with one-on-one. We go step-by-step and try to take that fear away from them.”

The Natatorium previously offered individual swimming lessons for adults but not group classes, according to Smothers, who became a certified instructor along with Arnold, his wife, Brenda, and Lisa Barnett.

“We are excited at the opportunity to continue to provide this service to adults in our area. The testimonies of the participants tell the true tale of how many of them went from very fearful of water, non-swimmers, beginner swimmers and those who just wanted to improve their techniques to now swimming laps and jumping into water above their heads,” Smothers said.

More than a third of adults in the U.S. cannot swim the length of the pool, and the children of adults who don’t know how to swim are less likely to learn to swim themselves, increasing their risk of drowning, according to the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation.

Some adults never learned to swim as children, while others had a traumatic experience that made them fearful of water.

As a result, instructors have to approach adults differently than children, according to Smothers.

“The first day, it may just be a toe in the water. For somebody who is very fearful, we may sit here and look at it (the water),” she said.

Whitney Dyer, who completed one of the Natatorium’s adult learn-to-swim lessons in July, was afraid of the water for most of her life.

She overcame her fear for her children, ages 5, 8 and 12.

“If we go to the beach or some other pool and something were to happen, I didn’t want to stand there in fear and feel helpless. I wanted to be able to help them if I needed to,” Dyer, 33, said.

By the end of the session, Dyer could swim halfway across the pool. She continued coming to the Natatorium several times a week. She now swims a mile a day and assists with the adult swimming lessons.

Dyer, a former sprinter, said learning to swim increased her self-esteem and inspired her to begin a workout regime.

“This summer, I was able to go down a water slide with my kids. I never could have done that before, so I got to experience something new with them,” she said.

Rev. Richard Stryker of River of Living Water United Methodist Church in Jasper had no knowledge of swimming when he signed up for the adult class.

“I knew how to sink,” he said with a laugh, minutes after finishing a swim at the Natatorium Wednesday morning.

At 53, Stryker was looking for a new way to exercise. Brenda Arnold invited him to the class.

“It was so much more fun than I thought it would be. I also discovered that my other routines like push-ups and jogging have become easier as a result of the swimming,” he said.

The next adult learn-to-swim session will be held Oct. 11-27. Classes will be offered Wednesday and Friday from 8:10 a.m. to 8:50 a.m.

To register, call the Natatorium at 205-384-9617.