Learning how to swim can be scary. Just ask 6-year-old Ernest Ingold (EI) swimmer, Justin: “I was pretty scared. I got in the water and thought ‘I’m going to drown!’ But I didn’t.” Justin smiles.
“My favorite part now is doing the ‘Torpedo’,” Justin says as he raises his arms and makes a pointed-shape with his hands.
Our Ernest Ingold Clubhouse has been offering Learn To Swim lessons for kids and adults for over 25 years. And about 75% of the kids who come to learn do not know how to swim at all, according to Matt Roberto, Ernest Ingold Aquatics Coordinator for over 12 years.
Matt started at EI in 1998, when he and his colleague, Becky Wildman, applied for and won an Olympic Club grant. Today, the swimming program is thriving and teaching kids not only how to swim, but also how to conquer their fears and build confidence.
Take 9-year old swimmer, Sandra.
“I feel I have more confidence in myself. So if someone is talking mean about me I don’t have to worry about it…I feel like I’m free when I’m swimming,” says Sandra.
“You feel happy for the kids,” says Jonathan Riley, Aquatics Director at EI. “A lot of these kids come in with no idea that they want to join a swim team, but as soon as they touch the water they feel happy, they’re in an element that they enjoy being in, so it’s nice to hold their hand and see them progress.”
A significant number of EI’s swimmers go on to compete in swim competitions and some even at the Olympic level.
Head Life Guard, Claudia Moutray: “We’ve had some children that come in at the beginning of the summer just four weeks ago and now they’re on our swim team, and we had our first swim meet. Just fighting through the fear of going off the blocks and competing, it was inspirational just to see how they’ve transgressed throughout the summer.”