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Mary Ann DeVeto has always loved the water and uses it to exercise. She’s been swimming laps ever since she joined the Y nearly 40 years ago and regularly water walks, but she never truly learned how to safely be in and around it. That was until she was in her mid-60s.

“I’ve watched the kids learning to swim and I thought, ‘hmm. I want to learn.’ So, I signed up,” DeVeto said. “And I learned that many adults don’t know how to swim.”

That is very true, adds Seamus McLaughlin, Aquatics Director at the Bay View Family YMCA. While there is a focus and need for programs for children, McLaughlin meets many adults, at various ages, that did not have the opportunity to learn to swim when they were younger.

“I would strongly encourage anyone that is even remotely interested in learning to swim to sign up for lessons,” McLaughlin said. “Having that ability to be safe around the water opens up a world of possibilities.”

So, as a gift to herself for her 66th birthday, Mary Ann signed up for swim lessons at the Bay View Family YMCA. She made sure to take them in time for a cruise she had planned in the fall. She worked with an instructor and at the end of her four lessons, they celebrated with a “graduation.”

“They cheered for me as I swam down the lane, and played Pomp and Circumstance,” she said. “Everybody at the Y was so encouraging.”

McLaughlin believes that lessons should never be limited to one age or another because learning to swim, at any age, is a life skill.

“Safety around water and the ability to swim is something that is important at any age,” he said. “We live in a region with bodies of water all around us, so being able to swim and feel comfortable around the water allows us to take part in those activities.”

Mary Ann said people will tell her she’s brave for learning to swim; but she doesn’t see it that way. She knows there is still more for her to learn and hopes by sharing story, more people will be comfortable getting outside their comfort zone to learn something new.

“I still don’t like getting my face in the water, but I did learn proper arm techniques and it’s really helped with my endurance in the pool,” she said. “I know how to float but she taught me that if I got turned and landed on my face, how to get myself out of it and get back in control on my body in the water.”

To learn more about swim lesson opportunities at the YMCA, check in with your branch or on our website.