- Bend Park and Recreation District
- It's never too late to learn how to be more comfortable in the water.
Being an urbanite from a working-class family, I've never had a swim lesson. I was somewhat afraid of water most of my life. I used to think I was the only one—especially in a place as outdoor-centric as Bend. Come to find out, many other adults are also uncomfortable with water.
Milagros Aparicio, client services coordinator for the Latino Community Association, said a float trip gone wrong at age 19 kept her away from the water for over a decade. The combination of slippery rocks and swift water flipped the river tube she was floating on, trapping her head underwater. "I almost drowned, I got traumatized and I never wanted to go back."
Aparicio wouldn't go in past her knee after that—until recently, when she discovered adult swim lessons through the Bend Park and Recreation District.
"At the beginning they ask what your comfortability level is," Aparicio says. "I like to hold hands with the instructor, it helps me feel safe, like I won't drown. And I like floating now that I am comfortable. It is relaxing. It makes me feel accomplished." Her deepest wish is that her young daughters, Yvonne and Estrelia, will eventually be inspired to join a swim team.
Amber Billeter, client services coordinator for the Zivney Financial Group, said she can dog paddle to the edge of the pool. That's about it. She plans to enroll in adult swim classes soon.
"I have always been afraid of the water, and even though I took swim lessons as a child, I never learned to successfully swim," Billeter explains. "Now that my son is starting his swim lessons in a few weeks, I know that it will be important for me to be able to keep up, too. Growing up in Central Oregon, there are so many things you can do outdoors and around water, and while swimming is not a requirement to enjoy the water, it does make the water activities safer. I want to be able to tell my kiddo he can swim or go boating or rafting and know there are capable swimmers around. Even in pool environments, I want to be able to efficiently save him if something were to go wrong."
- Bend Park and Rec
Adult swim instructor for BPRD, Ayla Halberstadt, says, "Swimming and water can be intimidating, but as a swim instructor I am passionate about demystifying the water and making it an enjoyable and a fun experience for everyone!"
What's different about teaching adults, versus the kids who usually frequent swim classes?
"Something I notice every time I teach adults to swim is the eagerness to learn. They want to better themselves and become more competent," Halberstadt says. "Many come with some fear of the water, and being able to watch them conquer that fear and become more at peace with the water is one of the most rewarding things."
BPRD offers an assortment of adult swim lessons, including family swim lessons and lessons taught in Spanish. Swim skills are taught in a progressive manner, so adults have success at every stage and class sizes are small to allow for personalized instruction. Individuals are taught at their level and given the opportunity to learn at their own pace while participating in a group lesson.