Faces of FOSS: Rachael Skoog

Rachael Skoog
Site Director
Blaine, MN

How long have you worked for FOSS?

For 14 years! Since 2004.

What is your favorite part about working for FOSS?

Getting to know so many incredible swimmers and families over the years. And I can’t forget the phenomenal group of instructors that I’ve had the pleasure of working with at all of the different sites.

What is your favorite FOSS memory?

When I worked at Maple Grove, I had a young swimmer named Ryan. Ryan has autism, and when we first started lessons, he could barely put his face in the water. The sensory experience of having his nose and eyes wet was overwhelming, and he would “shut down.” But Ryan was determined to learn how to swim like his brother Matt, so he worked hard, and after much practice and perseverance, he finally was able to do it! By my last session with Ryan, we were working on butterfly and breaststroke. Fast forward 10 years, and Ryan has participated in Special Olympics swim meets! So proud of that kiddo!

What is your favorite level to teach and why?

My favorite levels to teach are Little 2 and Big 3. I like Little 2s because the swimmers are starting to move independently in the water. As a teacher, I see such tremendous progress and independence when kiddos master these skills. Big 3s are fun because we start working on some of the more technical aspects of strokes by introducing some really fun and effective drills. My favorite age group to teach is Backfloat Babies, because I enjoy teaching parents how to be in the water safely with their swimmers outside of structured lessons.

What is your favorite skill to teach and why?

Anything relating to water adjustment. That ah-ha moment when a swimmer realizes they can put their face in the water on their own is absolutely magical.

What is your favorite water activity? Why?

I love spending time in the water with my 18-month-old daughter. It is so incredible watching her become water aware, find her kicks and practice monkey cheeks. Proud mama right here!

Tell a story about a student who experienced a major “lightbulb” moment when you were with them. 

I had a boy in one of my Little 2 classes who couldn’t swim in a straight line. He would bump into the lane lines, then veer into “oncoming traffic.” His mom chalked it up to being uncoordinated while I overanalyzed his kicks and scoops for weeks. Finally, I put on a pair of goggles and watched him swim from underwater. Turns out, even with goggles on, his eyes were closed. No wonder he was all over the place! I told him he could swim with his eyes open and VOILA! We had him swimming in straight lines from there on out.

Anything else you wish you could tell parents about you as they bring their children to FOSS?

Have a super nervous swimmer or even a kiddo who cries during lessons? Don’t worry! Please keep coming to lessons! Every instructor is trained to assist when tears start flowing and will always have your back! I know it is very hard to watch your child be scared or cry, especially if it’s your first session at FOSS, but let us work our magic and get your kiddo comfortable in the water. This experience is WAY harder on you than it is on your swimmer, and it may take a few weeks for your swimmer to build trust, so hang in there! I promise it gets easier!

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