Sink or Swim: Adults Learning How to Swim

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Tallahassee - July 3, 2012 - 11:42pm

Maria Reynolds is 53 years old, a mother of two and a grandmother. She's also blind and learning how to swim.

"I grew up where we didn't have a pool or the ocean nearby but when I came to Florida I started practicing a little bit, but I started raising my family so I didn't continue on," said Reynolds.

Decades later, she's picking up where she left off and not letting anything sink her goal this time around.

"Being blind, it's more difficult to adjust to the deep part of the water," said Reynolds.

And she's learning how to swim with about ten other adults.

"Even though I was born and raised in Florida, I can doggy paddle all right but I'm not really a good lap swimmer," said 28-year-old Amber Pepe.

"One of the main reasons for me to learn how to swim is my son. Because every time he looks into the T.V. there's a kid show, which is Kayu, sometimes he's swimming with his dad, so every time he asks me, when will we go to the swimming pool dad, so I thought I have to go for the sake of my son," said Abdullah Alshemaly. who will only tell us he is in his 30s.

No matter what the reason they're choosing to take the dive now, they're not alone. Last year the American Red Cross surveyed about 1,085 adults about their swimming skills. More than one-third described those skills as lacking or non-existent.

Sydney King is a swim instructor. She's teaching this latest round of adults to stay afloat.

"With kids you can tell them to jump in the shallow end and they're just going to do it but with adults you have to say we're going to put our head underwater, we're going to take it really slow," said King.

She says the big difference between teaching children versus adults is that children can be fearless and trusting, whereas adults are more cautions. Plus they may have issues children don't normally have.

"Honestly things like body consciousness that you don't have as a little kid, that's a big factor, and also just in the technical aspects in breathing, it's more difficult than it should be," said Pepe.

These are fears King says everyone is learning to paddle through.

"Helping them through that learning process is one of the most rewarding things," said King.

So with every lap, Reynolds and her classmates are showing the world that nothing, not age or even blindness can stop them in their wake.

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