Rye Y Story Project: Sheila V.

SheilaMy Y experience started when I was five with gym and swim. Kate Tiedemann (now Coach Kate) and I were both on the Wave Ryeder swim team and I and swam here all through high school.

I came back to the Y as an adult to volunteer because I wanted to keep my swimming certifications current. After I had children, I continued to volunteer with Mommy and Me and was eventually hired to teach swimming lessons. It was great when my kids were little – I was so close if someone called in sick and needed a sub. I worked two or three hours a day. As my kids got busier, I started taking on more and more. At one point, I was teaching several spin classes and water exercise classes a week.

My approach to water exercise is very postural. I’ll say to the class – shoulders back and down, straighten your bodies out and think about your spine! I plan my classes in advance. I change my music – fresh music helps. My big voice helps. And eye contact. I always look to see if members are struggling or bored. Now with my full- time position, I just sub.

When a full-time position (Assistant Aquatics Director) came up, I was ready. I oversee the youth swim program. I’m putting more details into the swim evaluations for both the instructors and parents. I want all of the instructors to teach the same skills at each stage. My goal is for a child to get through a stage in one or two nine-week sessions. I have a great group of instructors this year who are caring and enthusiastic and focused. I’ll jump in with an instructor and show them how to hold the child’s feet to teach them how to kick. I love being a swim instructor and would like to share that sense of accomplishment with others. I try to talk to the parents and keep them informed. I want to try to alleviate the roadblocks that crop up when registering for classes.

I love the water. I love being in the water, under the water, being able to play in the water. Water is soothing. I want to help instructors and children understand that the water is safe and fun. And you can have it for the rest of your life! When you get to be an older person you’re not going to want to pound the pavement or jump up and down. It is ideal to learn to swim by the age of 6. And you don’t have to be a beautiful swimmer. You just need to know that you can get to the other side. And float!

I’d like everyone to have the option of using the water for whatever it happens to be – swimming, exercise, relaxation, friendship!