Swim lessons change a life

Published 9:37 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In YMCA aquatic programs, children learn to be safe around water and develop lifelong skills that can help them stay healthy. For 12-year-old William Hicks, of Suffolk, swim lessons have been more than just an opportunity to learn something new, but his ticket to soaring new heights.

William began taking swim lessons at the Suffolk Family YMCA last June. He started as a non-swimmer in the polliwog group, with the goal of trying out for the swim team. Making the swim team would be a big feat for a beginner swimmer, but it was a goal that William was dedicated to achieving.

With a passion for swimming, William committed to taking lessons and practicing regularly. He also committed to working out twice a week in the fitness center. Having met with his favorite YMCA fitness coach, Eddy, William has learned to use the fitness equipment through a free fitness orientation offered to all members.

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William, who was born three months pre-mature weighing only two pounds, 10 ½ ounces, has had to face many challenges in his life. His mom, Ivet, who drives him to the YMCA daily, and his dad, Bill, who is in the Coast Guard, have seen how swimming has made William stronger mentally and physically.

A seventh-grade student at Portsmouth Christian, William is dedicated to being an excellent student, coming home every day and getting all of his homework done before heading to the Y.

Nervous about trying out for the swim team, William saw his goal in front of him and was determined not to quit. Aquatic Director Karen Johnston, urged William on as he tried out for the Gator swim team in the fall. She and his mother watched as William took in some water, which caused a slight break in his continuity, but William persevered on despite the challenge.

After two sessions of swim lessons and continued practice, William can report that he has not only graduated to the level of a fish in swim lessons, but he also achieved his goal and made the Suffolk Gators Swim Team.

William continues his Monday/Wednesday lessons while practicing for swim team on Tuesday and Thursdays. His favorite stroke is the freestyle stroke. He earned third place in the 100m freestyle in his first swim meet and fourth in the 200m freestyle.

William encourages more children to get signed up for swim lessons. The Suffolk Family YMCA provides parent/child classes, preschool classes, school-age classes, classes for teens and adults and private swim lessons, as well. Stop by the Suffolk Family YMCA or sign up online at www.ymcashr.org.

For more information on aquatic programs, contact Karen Johnston, aquatic director, at 934-9622 or e-mail kjohnston@ymcashr.org.