If you’re looking for adult swim lessons, options abound

craig.hill@thenewstribune.comNovember 2, 2013 

Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet:

How hard is it to find adult swim lessons around the South Sound?

I swim like a rock, so I’ve tried to answer this question many times. Until this year, I would have said it’s very hard to find lessons.

On two occasions, I signed up for classes at a local pool, only to show up and find the course canceled because nobody else registered.

About four years ago, I took matters into my own hands. I hired the only swimmer I knew, my then-10-year-old daughter.

Even though I’ve paid for every swim lesson she’s ever had, she refused to work for free.

Her rate: One doughnut per hour.

I got what I paid for.

Lesson 1 required hanging on to a kickboard and propelling myself 50 yards, two lengths of the pool. She made this look effortless, so I figured it would be easy. But when I tried, I didn’t move.

I kicked harder. It didn’t matter.

Kenzie put on her goggles and dived under water to inspect my form. She suggested a tweak, then another.

I still couldn’t get out of neutral.

Finally, she emerged for the fifth or sixth time and said, “OK, Dad, I see your problem.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“You stink.”

This is undisputable, but I’ve decided to do something about it. To keep myself motivated this time around, some friends and I agreed to run next summer’s Lake Stevens Half Ironman. The race starts with a 1.2-mile open-water swim.

This, of course, means finally tracking down proper lessons.

This time, I was surprised to find many more options.

When I called Blaine Leick, assistant manager at the King County Aquatic Center, he said he’s noticing more adults trying to learn how to swim in recent years.

“It’s a perfect low-impact exercise that builds lung capacity,” he said.

The aquatic center offers 30-minute adult lessons at 7 p.m. Monday-Friday. Cost is $62 for 10 lessons. Private lessons are also available for $30.

When I called local fitness specialty stores looking for lessons, they suggested the YMCA.

Earlier this year, the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties launched a pilot program designed to teach swimming to adults. Renée Quinn said the eight-week program called Floating Beyond Fear (free for members) was popular at the Silverdale YMCA and the organization plans to unveil versions of the program at all of its pools in 2014. Dates have yet to be determined.

For people who want to learn good swimming technique, Quinn recommends signing up for adult group swims (also free for members) or purchasing private or semi-private lessons (the best bargain seems to be five lessons for two members for $140).

An instructor at the Mel Korum YMCA on South Hill near Puyallyp said adults are turning out for these group swims and they’re rarely canceled due to lack of interest (two people must sign up for the class) as they have been in the past.

Over the past 13 months, an average of 180 people per session signed up for adult swim classes at the YMCA’s six South Sound pools, said Stephanie Dobson, the association’s aquatics director.

Additionally, other pools offer adult lessons including the Center at Norpoint, some local high schools and Olympia’s Discover Aquatics.

What’s one good reason to put my kids in gymnastics, a sport you don’t see many people doing beyond high school?

Over the past few months, I’ve crossed paths with several talented skiers who used to be gymnasts.

They include Tyler Ceccanti, a Lake Tapps resident who spends his winters skiing in front of movie cameras for production companies such as Warren Miller Entertainment; Heather McPhie, a Montana resident who’ll be among the favorites to medal in moguls at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi; and Laurenne Ross, a musician from Bend, Ore., who’ll likely ski for the U.S. alpine team at the Sochi Games.

They aren’t alone. Reigning Olympic moguls bronze medalist Bryon Wilson (and Brad, his younger brother and teammate) and others are also former gymnasts.

All say their gymnastics background played a role in their success. Why? Because the skills required in gymnastics transfer to almost any other sport.

In an episode of ESPN’s SportsScience, host John Brenkus floated the idea that gymnasts’ balance, spatial awareness and speed might make them “the best athletes on the planet.”

“Gymnasts are incredible athletes,” Ross said. “The sport is so good for body awareness. I find that a lot of gymnasts are really good at a lot of sports. You can even kind of tell who was a gymnast by their body movements.

“I think gymnastics would be good for helping anybody improve at any sport.”

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497 craig.hill@thenewstribune.com thenewstribune.com/fitness theolympian.com/fitness @AdventureGuys

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