Coach Hutchinson: Adult Learn-to-Swim Programs Save Lives

Our guest blogger, Dean Hutchinson, has been a physical therapist for nearly two decades. Prior to that, he swam competitively for the Auburn Tigers, one of the country’s preeminent NCAA teams. For National Water Safety Month, we invited him to share his years of experience on the importance of adult swimming lessons.

Learning to swim … we all know that it’s a vital skill. We need to learn for safety reasons, for health benefits, and for fun! As a physical therapist that treats patients in the aquatic setting, I see firsthand that the percentage of adults that do not know how to swim is very high.

The first session in our Endless Pools® Original Series pool at Strive Physical Therapy and Aquatic Rehabilitation is fairly consistent: Our middle-aged to elderly clientele white-knuckle the side of the pool for the first five minutes. We are with them, talking them through it, but the fear is very real and difficult to let go. It does resolve, as they experience the ease of exercise using the water’s buoyancy.

We go on to have very successful outcomes. This first visit is a constant reminder though: Adults very often cannot swim.

Dean Hutchinson, MPT, swam competitively for Auburn University. So in addition to helping clients with a range of ailments at Strive Physical Therapy, he's also passionate about swimming lessons to prevent "senseless" drownings. At Strive, he chose the Endless Pools Performance pool to teach adults and kids to swim; he finds the shallow, warm-water pool to be "a safe and calming environment" for beginners.

As a sports enthusiast, I think of Tom Mees. He was a prominent ESPN commentator on all sports in my youthful years, and I really enjoyed him on SportsCenter. He took his daughters to the neighbors’ pool for a swim and lost his life. The thought of drowning in front of your children haunted me at the time. It seemed, and was, senseless.

The fear of water and the inability to float are very real. Loss of life due to the fear of water is real.

Adults ask us for swim lessons for a variety of reasons: from parents who want to have safe fun with their children to budding triathletes who admit that swimming is their weak leg. Our adult swim lessons help both demographics.

The Endless Pools Performance pool allows us to teach them in a safe and calming environment. The pools are not intimidating – they’re relatively shallow and have warm water – and really are entertaining to them once they get in.

It is no different than with children. In fact, adults that are learning to swim look very much like children. Their reaction when they can actually swim is also like children’s – youthful excitement is in us all. It comes out of them with each lesson.

We strongly encourage all adults to learn to swim. Find your local learn-to-swim program and get involved. If you’re in the South Jersey area, then please feel welcome to give Strive's learn-to-swim program a try.

Knowing how to swim is great for fun and fitness, and it removes the anxiety from family trips to the beach or pool. It’s much more than that, though: Learn-to-swim programs save lives.

Strive Physical Therapy and Aquatic Rehabilitation has 12 locations in the Philadelphia/South Jersey region. Dean Hutchinson sees clients in the Elite Endless Pool located at their Field House location in Moorestown, New Jersey.

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