On Being a Swim Instructor

Today my friend Amanda and I were texting about social media and blogging and I was telling her how I sit down to write all these great ideas that are in my head but once I finally sit down the writing just isn't there. I told her I feel like I have abandoned all my blogging friends but I also think those who blog understand that sometimes life isn't just about how many posts we get up.

However, I am finally here to sit and write out one of those ideas in my head and it has to do with my job.

Whenever people ask me about work they tend to ask what I do and if I am full or part time. When they find out I am part time, they usually ask me how many kids I have. (I'm rolling my eyes...) Then, when I tell them none, they often don't know how to answer. It's awkward you guys! And people make me feel bad for not working full time. So then I proceed to tell them how my husband is a PA and works really crazy hours at the ER and to make sure Dave and I have time together and to make sure all bills and other things in life get taken care of I work park time. All in a run on sentence just like that!

I do work part time though and I overall enjoy it. I am a swim instructor at one of the YMCA's here in Wichita. If you aren't from Wichita you should know our Y's are some of the best in the nation. Our area has 9 branches and 4 of those branches have really nice outdoor water parks. The Y is a big part of the community here in Wichita. I work at a smaller branch that does not have an outdoor water park.

I never actually thought about working at the Y again. I worked at the Y in highschool and some in college and never thought to do it again. Last year, when I as applying for jobs no door would open for me and then someone told me that the Y was needing swim instructors. I interviewed and got the job. I didn't exactly know why God had me there but over time He has shown me a few things.

Our branch has a lot of Asians. And after living in Asia for a year I love interacting with them. I also feel like I understand their culture and know why they do some of the things they do. I also have had opportunities to share my faith with some of the kids and some of my co-workers. I had two little American-Cambodian girls that asked me so many questions about God during swim lessons. I could hardly believe the type of conversations we were having in between kicking and floating. At the end of the session I was honest and told their Mom about our conversations and gave them a Bible and invited them to church. She was nice and thanked me and I'm really thankful I had that opportunity.

Also, last summer I saw this Muslim family at Walmart. I stared and stared because she looked American and I couldn't figure out where she was from. Finally, I figured out I was staring and decided I should stop. A few weeks later that same family came into the Y for swim lessons. Thankfully she didn't recognize me as the rude starer at Walmart. However, her daughter was so much fun to teach and they are the nicest family! I asked where she was from and she nervously told me Syria and then asked if I had ever met someone from Syria before. I told her no but that I was glad she was here. The Y has a policy that while you are teaching someone you can't visit them outside of work. When swim lessons finished that family was on my heart. I began praying that I would see them out and about and a few weeks later I ran into one of the daughters and the Dad. I gave them my number and told him I would love to visit with his wife. And I did! A few weeks after that I went to their house and had the nicest visit. I hope to visit with them more and I really hope to be able to share God's love with them.

For more specifics of my job though ... Here are some very frequently asked questions I get:

How old should my kid be before I put them in swim lessons? 
This is the number one question I get asked by everyone. I think every kid should be enrolled to learn how to swim at the age of 3. However, before you enroll them there are things you can do with your baby and toddler to prep them for swimming. Making sure they submerge their head in the bathtub now and then and swimming with them before they turn three really helps a child acclimate to water and swimming pools.

What age do you teach? 
I have taught from six months old (so so cute!) to adults. I am often so proud of adults who come to class because they don't know how to swim and are taking big steps to overcome their fear and swim. I had never taught adults until this year but I really like it.

What do you teach? 
The Y has a new swim lesson program that has rolled out nation wide and it is really amazing. There are 6 levels and levels 1 through 3 are basic water movement and life saving skills. Levels 4 through 6 are stroke introduction and technique. I wasn't sure about the program when it first rolled out but I really like it now. We teach a kid how to get out of a pool if they fall in rather than teaching them the strokes first. It does make a lot of sense and has worked really well with the kids too.

How many hours do you work? 
It changes by month. In March I am teaching 5 classes a week. In February I taught a minimum of 56 classes in a month and I was majorly burned out! Even if I work fewer hours it is a lot of showering between classes and that takes up time.

Lastly, I thought I would share two funny stories from the Y. The first story happened after one of the little boys burped so loud during class. He said excuse me and then one of the other little girls said this to me:

Girl: "My Daddy toots at home."
Me, calmly: "Yeah. People have to toot sometime."
Girl: "My Daddy toots reaaaaaallly loud at home."
Me: "Yeah, sometimes toots are loud." I thought she would let it go at this point but no....
Girl: "Yeah, when my Daddy toots it's loud and it stinks reaaaaally bad."
Me: "Well, sometimes toots stink."

I laughed inside so hard! What was more hilarious was that after class her Dad came and picked her up. If only he knew what her daughter had just told me. =)

The second scenario happened when I was trying to teach a boy how to do breaststroke kick:

Me: "When you whip your legs you need to squeeze your butt muscles together to get power!"
Boy: "Yeah! Squeeze your bottom together real hard like you do right before your Dad or Mom is going to spank you real hard!"

I busted out laughing! I don't know why it cracked me up so hard but it just really did.

That's my job in a nutshell. If you have any other questions about what I do or if you have any questions about swimming in general please feel free to ask in the comments.

And now I want to know what do you do for a job? Are you full time or part time? What's your favorite thing about your current job?


  1. I have fond memories of swimming lessons when I was little. I can't imagine teaching swimming, though, because in all honestly, I'm not a particularly good swimmer. It's so tiring!
    We've chosen the route of not having me get a full-time job for this season of life--for us, particularly for the reason that me not working will allow me to serve in the community. I stay plenty busy with all the opportunities to serve that come my way, and I love having the privilege of being the director of youth ministry at my church--I'm grateful that not having a 'real job' allows me the freedom to do the work I'm called to do! Also, I'm very grateful for Angel who goes to work and also invests his free time into the lives of the teens and kids we get to work with!

  2. stop it! I LOVE learning this about you. I so wish you were here so you could be my instructor. I need it!

  3. The things kids say are so funny. I love that the little girl completely called out her dad. Ha!

    I have swimming questions! Do the adult swimmers go through all 6 levels, or is that just for the kids? How does an adult swimmer know what level to sign up for? I am comfortable in the water in the sense that I wouldn't be afraid of drowning, and I always had friends with pools growing up, but I don't know the names of strokes. I guess I would say that I am shy in a pool. I don't know swimmer etiquette, or even how to approach a public pool. I know I sound silly, but I am serious.

    I think you have a really cool job!

  4. That is so funny about the kid telling the story about his dad's toots! I can only imagine what R is going to say about us to people. ha! I just signed R up for a swim lesson this summer right before she turns 2. I doubt she will really retain a lot of skills, but I think it will be good to get her some exposure to a pool situation and learn a few things to get more comfortable in the water. I'm excited!

  5. Hahaha I'm dying over these hilarious stories!!! So cute! Also, the way you are reaching out to your community is inspiring!!! You are encouraging me so so much!!