After 16 years and thousands of children, it seemed fitting to include an alumni page on our new website (coming soon!). The truth is, I began KidSwim as a sole proprietor, with a handful of families that I bonded with and remained with until every one of their children had aged out – this process for some, took as long as ten or twelve years given the age ranges of the children and if one or more of the relatives’ children were involved. I spent summer after summer in familiar homes with families I knew so well that I recognized when one had outgrown a bathing suit and it appeared on the younger brother or sister one or two summers later.
One family, The Feldmars, began with two girls, Blake and Sophie. Blake was almost 4 when I met them and had had some previous lessons, Sophie was a tiny red headed button of girl at that point, just turned 2 and weighed less than my bag of swim toys. The Feldmars were a swimming family and centered a lot of their vacation activities around aquatics so this was a priority and a love for them. The girls learned quickly and then a few years later, the twin boys were born and handed off to me for lessons at around 18 months.
So for a few summers I spent two hours a day twice a week with these kids and most of the time, by the end of the lessons, all four of them ended up in the pool playing games. As the girls grew older, we focused primarily on stroke technique, diving, flip turns, racing starts and sprints. I remember when Blake swam her first ocean swim with her dad and later joined Stephen Weiss swim team. Sophie as well took a few turns on swim team but eventually preferred soccer as her sport of choice.
The boys are in eighth grade and play water polo now. Blake is at Berkley, Sophie is about to graduate high school. I am long gone from needing to be a presence in their lives but I like to think that the years we spent together have cemented in some capacity in their memories and to that end, I recently reached out to Blake via email asking for a quick quote for the alumni page about what she remembers when she thinks about her lessons with me. Less than an hour later she wrote back with this:
“Lisa would play tons of games with my sister and I involving all sorts of things, from diving to the bottom to retrieve toys to races to bubble-blowing. She even let us make up our own, which really helped me take a sense of ownership and control over my time in the water. My lessons at KidSwim helped make the water my second home, which has enriched my life in so many ways over the years. I’ve been able to enjoy and excel at swim team and water polo, explore the incredible underwater world of scuba diving, and even become a certified lifeguard. KidSwim provided the foundation for a lifelong love of swimming, and I can’t imagine my life without the huge role water plays in it.” -Blake
On our website is the tagline ‘Teaching Kids to Love the Water’. The fact is, that is not just a line, nor is it an exaggeration. Part of the success that children have in our program comes from picking up on the fact that all of us who teach the “KidSwim way” really do convey how much we all love swimming; that for me it’s the preferred method of extracurricular activities for growing children, of relaxation for babies and adults, of exercise for anyone and everyone and my personal favorite way to spend vacation-focused activities.
Beyond all that though, is how much I love these kids and being an important part of their lives for so many years is a joy and a privilege that I wouldn’t trade for anything.