This summer, I worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor at Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral on Lexington avenue. Originally, I planned to lifeguard exclusively, but when the need arose for an extra swim instructor, I was also put in that role. I worked with kids between the ages of 3 and 13, with varying levels of ability; I found myself keeping one child afloat while shouting at another to slow down! This was hard work, as aside from remembering names, I also had to remember levels of ability, fears, and other crucial pieces of information. The work was, however, extremely rewarding, as in explaining techniques, I gained a better understanding of them myself.
I gained a much better understanding of how to relate to people through this experience. One of the most difficult things that most children have to overcome when learning to swim is learning to get over the fear of going underwater and floating on one’s back. Trying to persuade a terrified six year old to do either of these things is an arduous, and often extremely frustrating process. I quickly learned that just asking them to do it over and over was NOT the way to go. Instead, I found that if i did it first, and showed that although it might look scary it is not that difficult, the children who i taught were very reassured.