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Kids splashing in the pool

Around the age of 6 or 7 I remember being at a water park with my family. My cousin and I were playing in the shallow end of the wave pool. My aunt asked us to stay where we were and went to get a us sodas and snacks. My cousin and me thought it would be fun to go deeper, so we did. The waves started when we got to the deep part, and I got stuck under an innertube I was holding onto because I didn’t know how to swim. Luckily for me, the lifeguard noticed right away and rescued me. My aunt was obviously scared and angry. It was shortly after this time that I started swim lessons.


Swim lessons were important to my family because we spent so much time around the water. It was taking me a while to catch on. I don’t remember being scared or anything, it just didn’t click right away. I loved being in the water and would try the skills the instructor was teaching. Then after a few sessions, it did click! From that point on no one could get me to stop swimming. I would watch my older cousins swim and mimic the strokes and learned from them after lessons.


The importance of learning to swim and being safe around water is something that is still significant to me today. I became a lifeguard in high school and started teaching lessons shortly after. I was nervous to teach at first, but quickly got used to being on the other side of the lessons. Over the years, I have watched swimming click for my students as well. Working for the YMCA over the years has given me the opportunity to share this love of water (and how to be safe) with so many, both children and adults. I am grateful for that day back in my childhood, showing me the dangers of the water and for my family for choosing swim lessons so I could learn how to stay safe.


Kayleigh Hegarty, Downtown YMCA Aquatics Director


Click below to learn more about swim lessons at the Y! The next session kicks off the week of September 26.

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Category: Youth Development
Image of a YMCA Aquatics Director

Kayleigh Hegarty has worked in Aquatics since 2004 in various capacities (Lifeguard, Swim Instructor, Aquatics Director) at the YMCA.

Certificates: American Red Cross Lifeguard, American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor, CPR/AED/FirstAid for Professional Rescuer and Trainer.