One VIM patient said, “I feel free!” He was among the adults and children who learned to swim for the first time at Simon’s Rock College pool in April.
Volunteers In Medicine Berkshires participated in the Simon’s Rock College “Everyone Swims” program — a free series of lessons that taught kids and adults basic swimming skills and to learn to love the water. Thirty VIM patients and their families joined 20 volunteer swim instructors and interpreters from the PaceMakers Swim Team and the student body.
By teaching people to swim, we’ve given them the ability to enjoy swimming at our numerous public beaches without fear and perhaps even teach their families to swim. They have a reduced level of anxiety and trepidation.Bill Meier, Simon’s Rock Swim Director
Both volunteer instructors and novice swimmers found the experience magical and it helped to combat isolation and depression. The program brought longtime residents together with newcomers, creating valuable connections. Instructors formed bonds with the people they taught and grew to appreciate their determination and dedication to learning. The new swimmers were able to have fun together while learning a valuable skill.
One instructor and her young student formed a strong attachment. The girl had hoped she’d to learn to swim in just four lessons. When she wasn’t ready to swim at the end of the month, her student volunteer instructor offered to continue meeting through the academic year so the child might realize her goal.
Volunteers were excited to share the joy of swimming, a skill they have often taken for granted. One instructor said: “I have a strong desire for people to know how to swim — not only for fun and fitness, but for safety! I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to teach adult swim lessons in our community so I can share the benefits of this important activity.”