Aug 9, 2012

Really {Ridiculously} Awesome People Swimming

      I met Leslie Paul by sheer good luck. Actually, I take that back, I met Leslie Paul because God is crazy for me and has awesome plans for me. When I nervously signed up to take a Water Safety Instructor class in the fall of 2006, it was Leslie’s be-freckled, smiling self that welcomed me.  In case you aren’t familiar with all things Red Cross Aquatics, a Water Safety Instructor is a fancy-schmancy word for Swim Teacher.  Now I should mention that, in 2006, I wasn’t a prime candidate to be a WSI. I could swim but my strokes were not very pretty. As in, if I was showing a student how to do the butterfly stroke, said student might freak out and think I was drowning. But Leslie didn’t seem to mind..I swear she worked extra hard with me to get me through this class {Most of my classmates were former swim team guards with stellar strokes}. She encouraged me, instilled a lot of confidence in me, and held me to good, high standards. After a couple of intense weekend classes with her, I became certified and went on to teach that very same winter and for some  years after that.


      On top of being an Instructor-Trainer for Red Cross, Leslie was up to something else in those days. Disturbed by drowning statistics in children, she took action and founded RAPS. Really Awesome People Swimming offers Red Cross swim lessons to disadvantaged children. In just a week format, groups of children attend RAPS to learn water safety, gain comfort in & around water, and get swimming! You may have seen RAPS mentioned on the local news during this past summer since Leslie & her staff are truly making waves…they have taught hundreds of local children since its inception. You can check out RAPS on Facebook {be sure to look through the pictures!} as well as read more about it here, herehere, and  here.


     RAPS is made possible by Leslie’s vision, enthusiasm, love for swimming, love for kids, and desire to see a change. I spent the last two weeks witnessing her magic. Leslie has bugged me for years to come out and teach with RAPS. I always put her off since I was instructing with MWR and didn’t want to deal with all the scheduling conflicts. When I hung up my guard suit for good at the end of July, I knew it was finally time to go teach for her and see what RAPS was all about. I was unprepared for how much I would LOVE it!  I was absolutely privileged & blessed to teach alongside Leslie and the other instructors. I had a ball playing and working with these kiddo’s who don’t normally get access to swimming lessons and pools in general. I was amazed at how much we could accomplish in a week, and the confidence and skills the children were walking away with. Not only do they learn the basic strokes and swimming survival skills, but water safety too.


     Marcus came along on graduation Friday to see the swim lessons and take pictures. Take a look!

RAPS Aug 2012 118 RAPS Aug 2012 121 RAPS Aug 2012 123 RAPS Aug 2012 125 RAPS Aug 2012 126 RAPS Aug 2012 128 RAPS Aug 2012 133 RAPS Aug 2012 136 RAPS Aug 2012 138 RAPS Aug 2012 139 RAPS Aug 2012 145 RAPS Aug 2012 148 RAPS Aug 2012 162 RAPS Aug 2012 164 RAPS Aug 2012 166 RAPS Aug 2012 167 RAPS Aug 2012 169  RAPS Aug 2012 109 RAPS Aug 2012 113 RAPS Aug 2012 114

Then after a week of 45 minute lessons followed by 45 minutes of free time, they graduate! Complete with medals, shirts and other goodies!

RAPS Aug 2012 197RAPS Aug 2012 202

 RAPS Aug 2012 193  RAPS Aug 2012 204

RAPS Aug 2012 205 RAPS Aug 2012 207  RAPS Aug 2012 176

RAPS Aug 2012 211  RAPS Aug 2012 177   RAPS Aug 2012 184RAPS Aug 2012 183RAPS Aug 2012 185RAPS Aug 2012 190 RAPS Aug 2012 175  

My sweet little class, minus one

 RAPS Aug 2012 214RAPS Aug 2012 215RAPS Aug 2012 218RAPS Aug 2012 220

Remember, learning to swim is a necessity, NOT a luxury!

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