A month from today, I’ll be on a plane to Orlando. A month from today is Independence Day. I can’t decide if seeing fireworks from an airplane will be cool or unnerving.
For the next 4 weeks, I’ll be working at my regular summer job as a swim lesson instructor. In the summer of 2006, I started my swim lesson business by teaching some neighbor kids how to swim. Over the years, the business has expanded rapidly. Many of my clients are referrals from other clients, but since I began using Google AdWords technology to advertise, I have seen a sharp uptick in Google clients. When I made the move from word-of-mouth to internet-based advertising, I had a flood of clients and not enough time to teach them all, so I invested in additional lesson capacity by hiring an employee, my sister Maggie, last summer. With Maggie’s help, I was able to expand the business from 18 students in summer 2008 to 54 students in summer 2009. This year, we have already taught 43 students, and it’s only the beginning of June! We began teaching about 3 weeks ago.
I swam on summer league teams when I was younger, on my high school varsity team, and on year-round club teams. I have 3 years of coaching experience with one of the winningest (and largest—300+ athletes!) summer league teams in the Triangle area. I’ve been teaching swim lessons for 5 years now, and I really enjoy it.
I loved coaching because I was able to make use of my technical swimming knowledge with the older kids I worked with, but teaching lessons affords me more freedom than coaching because I’m able to work with kids of all ages and abilities.
There’s something so special about helping a little girl overcome her fear of the water or seeing the delight on a kid’s face when he does a flipturn correctly for the first time. Once you get over being afraid of getting water in your ears, you’ll never be afraid of that again. Swimming isn’t quite like riding a bike—you need to keep practicing in order to stay in shape and keep form—but once you learn how to do it, you can always pick it up, even if it’s been awhile since you last took a dip.
A day of teaching swim lessons can be surprisingly tiring. Those long hours of patiently and peppily standing in the sun (and sometimes in the rain) can wear a girl out, but even on the longest of days, I like to think that I do a pretty good job of keeping perspective. I have a really sweet summer job. I get to play at the pool with really cute kids ALL DAY LONG. And I make great money, too. What an awesome gig.
The next month is insanely busy. Usually, Maggie and I will teach limited hours (12-3) on weekdays and full days (9-4) on weekends for the entire summer. This time, however, we are going all-out for the month of June. After June, things come to a grinding halt for about a month, and then Maggie will continue teaching on weekends in August and September. Since I go back to school 3 days after I return from India, I won’t have time to teach any more. Lessons booked up super fast this summer. I’ve had to tell old clients, good families with nice kids, that I simply don’t have room in my schedule to teach them. I have a wait list! When I tell people at school or wherever that I teach swim lessons during the summer, they usually shrug it off with some comment about how hard it is to find a good internship in this economy, or something equally dismissive. When I tell people that I’ve been responsible for teaching more than 100 kids a skill that could save their lives, the reactions are usually quite different…
Shameless Plug: Check out my cool website HERE.
[Thanks for the design help, Dad!]
A quick shout out to any of my swim lesson parents who might be reading this blog when I’m in India. THANK YOU! Thanks for trusting me and Maggie with your children and for giving us the opportunity to teach them. We truly appreciate it. Without your families, we would have nothing to do–our summers would be boring. Thanks for keeping us so busy. You have kind, smart, funny, adorable, wonderful kids (:
A recent USA Swimming study found that, along with fear, one of the major factors preventing children from learning to swim is lack of parental encouragement. Focus group research found that many parents wouldn’t let kids swim even if lessons were free.
Did you know that yesterday, the Typhoon Lagoon water park at Walt Disney World was the headquarters for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson? Olympic Gold Medalist (and Olympic swimming commentator) Rowdy Gaines served as spokesperson for the event.