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Teaching Swim Lessons During High School, College and Beyond

By Mitch Vosejpka, YWCA Minneapolis Lifeguard and Swim Instructor
July 26, 2017
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I distinctly remember attending swim lessons as a child. In high school, I was hired as a lifeguard and then became a swim instructor for two years. It was my first job ever.

A Career in Swim (and a Free Gym Membership!)

I moved to the Twin Cities for college and was looking for a job while also looking for a gym membership. A friend told me she worked as a lifeguard and swim teacher at a gym, and received a free gym membership just for being employed there! I thought to myself “Why didn’t I think of that?” I was already a lifeguard. I was already a swim instructor. I have all my certifications. So I began looking for lifeguard jobs close to where I lived and found YWCA Minneapolis’ downtown location. I was hired as a lifeguard and became a water safety instructor shortly thereafter.

Teaching All Levels and Abilities

I haven’t always taught all age ranges. When I started working at YWCA Minneapolis I was hesitant to teach level 4 and 5 swim lessons where students learn more advanced skills. Over time I became more confident in my teaching and now I teach all levels from parent/child all the way to adult classes. My favorite is teaching those just beginning to swim, whether it’s an adult or a child. I like seeing the progress of a child who was once scared of the water, to them asking to do a bob and wanting to get in the water.

Swimming for a Mission

What I like best about my job is the mission we have at YWCA Minneapolis, which is eliminating racism and empowering women. It motivates me to go further in my role as a swim instructor and include values like acceptance and kindness in my teaching. I don’t just say “sit still and listen”. My students learn about being ok with differences and embracing others in the community.

The diverse membership is a wonderful part of this job. I get to interact and invest in cultures, people and differences that I hadn’t been exposed to growing up. We are here to empower these kids and their families, and through my work I feel able to do that.

Relationships with Co-Workers and Families

I like cultivating relationships with both co-workers in my department and also parents of children who are taking swim lessons. It’s fun seeing their kids grow year after year, and it’s great having that experience with a team of people who have the same values.

Thinking About…Santa? Funny Moments Over the Years

Overall, I enjoy my work as a swim instructor. I love working with kids. It’s fast-paced, and I have the support and encouragement of my co-workers. I was telling one of my students “When it’s not our turn, we have to be thinking about our good listening skills.” And he told me, “Or, we could be thinking about Santa.” There have been so many funny moments I’ve had over the years.

Graduating and Continuing to Work with Youth

I just graduated from college this May. I hope to work with teens in a group setting to discuss hardships, build self-confidence and help them reach their full potential. I’ve been working as a part-time swim instructor at YWCA Minneapolis the entire time I went to school, and I plan on having a continued presence there. I see myself continuing to teach the kids and the member base I love. It’s been so satisfying to see the progression in my students over the years, as well being acknowledged and appreciated for my work – it is a really wonderful feeling.

YWCA Minneapolis is Now Hiring Lifeguards and Swim Instructors

Want to join Mitch as a swim instructor or lifeguard? YWCA Minneapolis is now hiring for all swim positions!

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