I have been swimming for most of my life, spending nearly every day at swim practice for much of my childhood. Naturally, when I turned sixteen I wanted to be a lifeguard. My first job was a part time lifeguard for the City of Oakland. After working for a couple of years as a lifeguard, I got my certification from the Red Cross as a Water Safety Instructor. It brought a new wave of experiences that I never really expected. I always took for granted what a great skill swimming was to have. I had learned at a very young age, and had never really considered how lucky I was to have such a valuable skill. I worked at a public pool in west Oakland through out my summers in high school and into college. I taught many young children how to swim, and it was truly the most rewarding experiences I have had. This was a lesson for me as well, these seemingly deprived children enlightened me on how many blessings I have, and am so grateful that I was able to share a skill with them that they can use for the rest of their lives.
Sharing the skill of swimming can be a life changing experience for both the student and the teacher. I had a wonderful swim coach who was my teacher while I was honing my swimming skills at the ripe age of nine. My coach ,Bill Aiden, was like no other he was so passionate about his job. This passion flowed throughout the waters of our Oakland swimming pool, and many kids who started with little or no interest in the swim team became star swimmers after only a few years. Bill was always looking for new ways to improve his swimmers’ abilities. He frequently got in the water with us, using full length mirrors which he placed on the bottom of the pool so that we could see how we looked when we swam. He wanted each and everyone of his students to succeed, not just the few that were naturally talented in swimming. He gave his students the opportunity to pursue our swimming potential. Bill’s passion for swimming grew within me, and I too became passionate about swimming.
It is easy to forget just how much of our earth is covered in water, nearly 70% of the earth’s surface is water. We can all walk, but swimming can be just as important. It gives one more confidence to be in, and around water, knowing that should anything happen they will be able to swim and tread water making swimming and aspect of survival. Time and again friends and family ask me if I would be willing to teach them to swim. This shows that many people value the skill of swimming and want to be able to swim well.
Swimming and lifeguarding have shown me a side of myself I would have never ventured to if I had not joined the swim team at age nine. I continue to work my way through college as a lifeguard at the recreational pool on the Cal Poly State University campus. The lifeguards on staff are some of the most well trained employees at the recreational center, and are called upon as first responders anytime there is an emergency. This makes the lifeguards presence felt not only out at the pool but throughout the recreational center as well. My passion for swimming will never retire, even after I do. This I believe the lifelong skill of swimming benefits and can touch the lives of each and every person who learns this valuable skill.
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