Author: Benjamin Harrell
Each week SwimRVA connects with one of the students in the SwimRVA Swim School community to share their progress and learn more about what they love about swimming! The story is then featured in our weekly Swim School CONNECT newsletter. Get to get to know what makes our students special below!
Arianna joined the SwimRVA Swim School community over the summer, and after getting used to the new pool and coaching team shes has been floating through the stations!
When Ariana first came to take lessons, she was understandably shy. Coming to an unfamiliar environment and taking orders from strange adults around new kids can be overwhelming for kids in the beginning. “She cried on the first night of lessons, didn’t want to get in the water, didn’t want to meet the teachers or anything,” her mother explained.
It took a little time for her to open up, but now Arianna’s mother says swimming has become a new favored hobby! “She loves it. I think [swimming] opened her up because she’s a little shy. It’s been another great outlet for her to engage with something she loves. She looks forward to swimming class each week, and it brings out a different side of her.”
Now on Station 7 of SwimRVA Swim School, Arianna’s change in confidence has been like night and day. She comes right into lessons and doesn’t need her mother to reassure her in the water. “She just jumps in and gets to work. It’s great seeing her engage, and to be okay letting go [of fear].”
Loni is in the Swim School Spotlight! Her hard work in the pool has not only helped her reach new levels in swimming, but also guided her to her new favorite form of exercise! “This isn’t available everywhere, for adults. It’s been literally life-changing for me.”
Loni’s previous experience with swimming motivated her to get back in the water to finish training. “I already knew how to swim before I got here, but I just want swimming to be my fitness moving forward. I’m a registered nurse, my knees hurt. I’m not the type of person that would exercise on the treadmill per-say. Everyone has their niche, and I just love the water.”
When asked why the water is so special, she explained how easy it was for her to fall back into it. “Swimming isn’t a chore for me. Anything you enjoy, you put a lot of effort into it. I feel very accomplished.”
Loni’s aquatic journey did have a few bumps along the road, but she stuck with it and worked through her obstacles until they became strengths. “Initially, [backstroke] was my hardest skill because I have to be totally submissive in water. One thing about learning as a child vs being an adult, to them it’s all fun, but for adults, you know about drowning and how it only takes 2 tablespoons of water to drown.”
In reference to Jacob G and the SwimRVA Swim School team, Loni had wonderful things to say. “I love Jacob! He’s a professional baton twirler and told him every time I pass a station he has to twirl, and he actually did it! It helps that we have wonderful teachers that motivate you. Everybody that I’ve had has been phenomenal.”
Herman joined SwimRVA Swim School as a secret from his family! “He wanted to surprise his family on vacation and show that he can swim too,” explained Coach Jacob G. When he first began lessons, Herman had a huge fear of the water. “I was literally afraid of it.” Fortunately, he didn’t let his fear stop him from learning! Even after the vacation, he stuck with it. “All of my kids knew how to swim, and I got tired of being the guy sitting on the edge of the pool all the time.”
Now Herman is in Station 4 with only two skills left to go! “I’m working on my freestyle stroke and the rollover. It’s like a barrel roll, a safety procedure in case you fall into the water so you can adjust yourself and get your bearings.”
He credits both the SwimRVA staff and other students for his progression. “Everybody has been great. The other students are really motivating.”
Zoe and Mia
Zoe S and Mia M are in the spotlight for their persistence and integrity in the pool! Mia and Zoe originally came to join the SwimRVA Rapids swim team but needed to work on a few skills to be fully ready. Instead of giving up, they took up the challenge to improve and enrolled in SwimRVA Swim School!
One of the benefits to the SwimRVA Swim School station-based program is that you’re able to start where you need to be, which may not necessarily be the beginning!
Thanks to Zoe’s prior swimming experience, she was able to test into Station 4 to work on those last few skills before becoming a Rapid! “Right now, Zoe is improving her Side-Glide Kick and Freestyle skills,” said Coach Kris. “I’m inspired by her motivation to get to the next level of swimming.”
Mia was also able to test ahead! She is in Station 5 working on her backstroke skill and proper breathing during the freestyle. “She just got into the water and used a setback as her fuel to get better quicker!” With her focus on end goal, we’ll be seeing Mia in a SwimRVA Rapids uniform very soon!
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The Mission of SwimRVA is to elevate swimming in the Richmond region making water safety and aquatic fitness more accessible to all. We promise to serve as a catalyst for regional aquatics and community-wide focus on water safety, health and fitness, sports tourism, and competitive aquatics. Donate today to help support our mission