Chlorinated water flows through Erin Fishpaw’s veins, so to speak. The aquatics director at Findlay Family YMCA took to the pool mere months after birth, and since 2007 she’s taught more than 1,000, toddlers, teens, babies and children life-saving swimming skills.
“I’ve been swimming my entire life. My parents took me to lessons when I was 6 months old until I was 7. And then I was a member of swim teams at the Bucyrus Y from when I was 7 until I was 18,” she said.
Fishpaw attended the Ohio State University and played on the club water polo team her sophomore, junior and senior years. After graduating in 2003, she became the Bucyrus YMCA aquatics director before taking the Findlay job.
When hired in Findlay, Fishpaw was pregnant with her first son Jeremiah, who is now 9. Her younger son, Evan, is 4.
Teach kids when they’re young
Over the past five years Fishpaw has taught swim lessons to 200-plus youths annually from the YMCA Child Development Center, just across East Lincoln Street.
Her students range from 6 months to ages 12 or 13 — “the prime ages for drowning” — with occasional adult students sprinkled in for good measure.
“You don’t get in the water until an adult is ready and waiting for you. You don’t just run in there and jump in the pool. When my kids were little, probably a year or two old, I could set them on the side of the pool and walk away from them and tell them to stay right there. And they would stay on the wall, because they knew they weren’t being invited to get in the pool,” Fishpaw said.
“As soon as you can get them in the water and keep it consistent, the better the chances you have of your child being comfortable with the water. And also, being safe with the water,” she said.
Lessons for ‘perch,’ ‘sharks,’ etc.
The Findlay Family YMCA offers youth swim lessons for shrimps (6 to 18 months), perch (19 months to 2.5 years), Learn with Me! (2.5 to 3.5 years), pike (beginners ages 3.5 to 5), eel (advanced beginners ages 3.5 to 5), polliwogs (beginners age 5 and older), guppies (kids 6 and older who can swim 25 yards), minnows (kids who can swim two pool lengths), guppies (three pool lengths), flying fish (100 yards freestyle and 50 yards backstroke/breaststroke), and shark (150 yards freestyle/backstroke/breaststroke and 50 yards butterfly).
“You’re never too old to start, either. Sometimes we have adults that are bringing their kids to swim lessons, but they’re kind of embarrassed because they’re uncomfortable in the water themselves,” Fishpaw said. “There’s no reason to be scared. Swimming is exciting. It’s a life skill.”
For swim lesson information, call 419-422-4424
or visit findlayymca.org