From Fear of Water to Adult Swim Student to Swim Instructor

When Rachel Garcia was about 4 years old, she had a near-drowning experience. “I was at a beach with my mom and her friends, and there was a dog that was running, and it pushed me into the water, and nobody noticed it happen,” she recalls. “I remember being under the water. Someone pulled me out and I wasn’t breathing right. After that, I developed a water phobia.”

From then on, water activities of any kind created anxiety for Rachel. “I took swim lessons at different ages and levels, and I would get so nervous I would throw up,” she says. She dreaded pool parties. “I would go to interact, but I would just stay in the shallow end and splash around. I missed out on a lot.”

Fast forward a few decades, and Rachel still had anxiety around water. But she also had children of her own and, given her own near-drowning, wanted them to attend what she felt was the best swim school. Her extensive research led her to Foss Swim School, where the curriculum and teacher-student ratios were the deciding factors.

Adult swim lessons give a fresh chance for confidence

In reading the class descriptions, she noticed the option for adult lessons. “I thought, let’s give it one last shot,” Rachel said. A black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Rachel knew she had the ability to achieve success through physical and mental challenges. Still, her swim lessons did not start smoothly. “There was a moment in a class when I would have a problem with a flip-breath,” she recalls. “My instructor stopped me and asked what was the problem. It was all mental. She said ‘Do you know what to do? Then do it now.’”

It was a breakthrough moment. The challenge worked. Rachel found that she could focus on what she was supposed to do rather than worry about what might happen if she failed. “That’s when it clicked,” she says. “Ever since that moment I’ve progressed really quickly. Now I’m the first in my family to say ‘Who’s ready to go swimming?’ I’m now planning vacations with water and swimming in mind and buying passes for the waterpark.”

Using her experience to help others

Rachel came to appreciate what swim lessons gave her so much she decided to become a FOSS instructor herself. “My thought was, how many other adults don’t know how to swim?” Rachel says. “A lot of teachers always knew how to swim.” By applying her personal experience to her FOSS instructor training, she is uniquely positioned to help adult swimmers get over their fear. As an instructor at the Savage, MN location, Rachel teaches multiple levels, but has a special place for her adult students. “I have three adult students right now,” she said. “I’m really proud to say that those three ladies are now swimming and flipping and comfortable in the water. It makes me smile.”

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