I Can Try
Written by NESS SEA AmeriCorps Member Elizabeth Allaby
“As part of their curriculum, 6th graders at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School must participate in an 8-week long swim program. As a NESS SEA AmeriCorps member, I was fortunate to be able to serve as a swim instructor for the swimmers at the beginner level. At first, I did not realize what a rewarding challenge swim lessons would be. I assumed each student would have some rudimentary swimming abilities. Instead, I had at least 5 students who were terrified to put their faces underwater, let alone be able to swim into the deep end. I am proud to say, by the end of the program, each student was swimming to 12 feet by their own power and without floats.
One student in particular made a huge impression on me. 11-year-old Claudia had so much fear in her face that first day, I did not think she would ever leave the pool wall, let alone go into deep water. Despite her fear, she would always reply to every task with, ‘I can try.’ The first day, she became comfortable having her head under water and blowing bubbles through her nose. With this skill, she would never inhale water in her lungs again, thus giving her confidence to try more things. The second day, she learned to float on her back and relax her neck. As the weeks carried on, she learned to kick with floats, then without floats, then swim with her face underwater. With each skill, the fear crept back into her face, but she was always willing to try. I will think of Claudia for the rest of my life any and every time I feel scared or unsure if I can actually achieve something. She taught me to set the fears aside and say, ‘I can try.’”