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Pushing Through Fear: Learning to Swim as an Adult

By YWCA Minneapolis
April 20, 2023
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April is Adult Learn to Swim Month! To celebrate, we are sharing the story of one of our health and wellness members, Mae Brooks, who learned to swim with YWCA Minneapolis adult swim lessons. Read how Mae pushed herself to try new things in her personal and professional life, to lean into discomfort and push her boundaries. 

What brought you to YWCA Minneapolis?

I’ve had two stints with YWCA Minneapolis. The first time I joined was through an invitation from a friend back in 2010. During my visit, I experienced a different vibe (in a good way) in the facilities than in my regular gym; YWCA Minneapolis was more communal and offered lots of different classes for a variety of interests and different levels of fitness. Then I moved away. When I returned and settled into a routine, I rejoined because I remembered that good vibe, the convenience of all the locations and the variety of options offered to members. There are great services at members’ disposal.

Challenging Myself

When I decided to learn to swim, I took private swim lessons so I would have undivided attention, AND it forced me to concentrate and be committed. Learning to swim as an adult isn’t for the faint of heart. Add to that to the stereotypes around African Americans and our aptitude for swimming. I wanted to avoid negative experiences or microaggressions/microinvalidations from instructors at all costs.

I chose YWCA Minneapolis because I felt their mission statement would guarantee a positive experience and folks would understand my trepidations.

I’ve had a fear of water for as long as I can remember. I took swim lessons for a semester in college and learned I could backstroke. From there, I took group lessons several times but never fully overcame my fear of the water. It was difficult for me to put my face in the water. If I took a water aerobics class, I would get anxious if I drifted beyond the pool’s shallow end. Then as a New Year’s resolution, I committed to trying something that scared me to death and chose to learn to swim.

Leaning Into Discomfort

Learning to swim was one of the scariest and most rewarding experiences of my life. It has prompted me to try new things in my personal and professional life, to lean into discomfort and push my boundaries. It’s impacted my willingness to invest in myself and commit to new adventures. Learning to confront and overcome my fear of water has prompted me to consider other fears or obstacles I can conquer.

Support Through Struggle

When you have great coaching, encouragement and support, the results are amazing. I’ve experienced the benefit of having great personal trainers and, of course, swim instructors. A big shoutout to my private swim instructor, Ed. He had such patience, a great teaching technique and availability for 7:00 am lessons.

Mae and Private Swim Instructor, Ed

Mae has come such a long way. When she first came to me, she was deathly afraid of water and said the pool looked all black. One thing Mae never did was give up on herself.  — Ed

He listened to me and pushed me to try scary things like jumping into the deep end of the pool, swimming across Cedar Lake, signing up for the Indoor Triathlon and craziest of all, doing the YWCA Minneapolis Women’s Triathlon!

You meet the most interesting people at YWCA Minneapolis, both members and employees. A special day brightener is when I see the Early Childhood Education children being dropped off at child care.

My advice for others on staying healthy, active and well is to think about your total well-being and realize there are many facets to being the best version of yourself. Try new things, and keep yourself physically and mentally healthy.

Learn More about YWCA Fitness Membership

Learn more about Private & Semi-Private Swim Lessons