Meet the Instructors: D’Ar Zirbes

D’Ar Zirbes
Site Director
St. Paul, MN

How long have you worked for FOSS?
Since March of 2012!

How do you approach teaching kids to swim?
Building trust in general with my swimmers is so important. I look forward to finding out the things they enjoy outside of swimming and try to implement them into my stories as I teach. When a child feels safe and comfortable with you they will put in the extra effort!

What is your favorite level to teach and why?
I have two favorite age groups: 4-6 year-olds and 9+. When kids are around that kindergarten age they are JUST learning about being brave. Also they still laugh at my terrible jokes. The kids nine and older are fun because they either REALLY want to be there, or they act like they REALLY don’t want to be there. Either way I get to make them smile and teach them something very valuable: swimming!

What is your personal favorite water activity?
Those spontaneous times you jump into a pool or lake! You might be fully dressed or laying in the sun baking in the heat, and you suddenly get the urge to splash into some H2O – sometimes you just have to do it!

Can you recount a major “lightbulb” moment for a student of yours?
I have been lucky enough to teach many kids with special needs while with FOSS Swim School. One of my students was about six years old and he had autism. He was so nervous the first day that we offered him a private class with me at the end of the shift. I told him if he put his chin in the water, I would let him mess up my hair. He LOVED doing that! By the end of our eight-day camp this little guy was putting his eyes in for five seconds and was doing a backfloat on a noodle. Let’s just say my hair was constantly being messed up during while I was working with him!

What is your favorite skill to teach?
Scary sea monster! It’s the skill you use to get water out of your nose (we tell kids they are scaring fish out of their noses.)

What do you want parents to know about swim lessons?
Every child can learn how to swim. It doesn’t matter if they have a physical or mental disability or if they are terrified of the water and they are 10 years old. It takes time and commitment but as long as you have a positive attitude and you’re ready to be goofy, you CAN become safer in the water!

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