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Friday, March 4, 2016

My Son the Lifeguard?

Christian, my 15 year old son, recently got his Lifeguard Certification so that he could help me out at the free learn to swim clinic that I run at the Union Avenue pool, for underserved youth.  But wait, how did this happen?  Wasn’t it just yesterday I was giving him a bath in the kitchen sink?  Why do I still have little hooded bath towels and rubber duckies in my linen closet?

And Michael, my 12 year old, is one of our many volunteer swim helpers, they get in the pool and guide the younger pollywogs as Big Coach calls out the instructions.  I know that time flies when you’re just trying to make it from Point A to Point B, which is usually from Monday morning to Friday afternoon; or from breakfast dishes to getting dinner on the table.  
But nothing puts it in perspective like printing out your kid’s American Red Cross Lifeguard certificate.  And remembering all the times I took him to Mommy and Me water classes and little boy swim lessons.  All the times I took him to the Y just to swim laps.  All the rubber duckies I threw in the water time after time to get both my kids to go after them and learn to swim.  
And now my oldest is a lifeguard and my youngest is a swim helper, in a program that I founded with Coach Kennedy to teach underserved kids and kids with differing abilities to swim.   And the kids we taught to swim 3 years ago, who couldn’t even put their face in the water at first, are now swimming laps and helping instruct the younger kids.  Coach and I started the program so that we could help kids to pass the USRowing swim test, and learn the sport of rowing.  But the swim program has taken on a life of its own.  
Childhood drowning has been declared an epidemic by the Center for Disease Control.  The only way to eradicate it, is one  stroke at a time.
The program is run by America Rows and Swims Newburgh -- it’s not the family “business”, because it’s a not for profit, and the funds come from grants that I write to foundations.  But it is the family volunteer job, and we love it.  Learning to swim is a lifesaving skill.  To think that our family has had a little part in making the water safe for these children is a really gratifying feeling.  
As I walk around the pool and see my older son lifeguarding, so many kids volunteering in the water; Big Coach teaching the basics of swim safety skills, and other coaches teaching the 4 basic strokes; I see kids learning to swim whether they have Down Syndrome, autism, or a lack of funds, I am completely humbled to be the driving force, along with Coach Kennedy, behind this program.  I hope my kids will see what I see:  doing good is its own reward.  And I guess yeah, we don’t need the hooded bath towel or the rubber duckies anymore.
Have a great day, everyone and, as always Remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo