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Swim lessons: Better late than never learning
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Jumping right in

Times summer intern Audrey Williams never learned how to swim. She’s one of many adults who lack that skill, but thanks to some classes with the Red Cross this week and next, she’ll be learning how and sharing that experience in columns in upcoming editions of The Times and on

We are smack in the middle of summer — a time when keeping cool is the main objective for most of us.

Whether you go the nostalgic route of stocking up on the fruity ice-pops of your youth or the more effective route of blasting the air conditioner on high, you’ve got some way of cooling down.

A favorite of mine is jumping into the refreshing waters of my neighborhood pool. There’s only one problem with that cool-down solution: I can’t swim. I can’t even float.

According to The Red Cross, that’s a big problem.

“We always promote swim and water safety, especially this time of year,” said Josh Roland, Atlanta spokesman for the Red Cross.

I’m in good company, he said, since there are many adults who don’t know the basics of swimming. To promote water safety, The Red Cross launched its first adult swimming courses this year.

“We’re launching them in 50 cities where drowning is a serious issue,” Roland said.

The class, Adults Learning the Basics, is two weeks long and will cover the foundational skills needed to learn how to swim.

“If you don’t know those skills, you could get into trouble,” he said. “There’s five basic water skills: for example, being able to jump into water over your head, being able to rise to the surface, being able to swim 25 yards and then being able to exit the water without a ladder.

“Those are some basic water skills that you need to know. If they don’t know those skills, then they need to sharpen those skills by taking swim lessons or water safety instruction.”

To rid myself of the shame of being water-averse, I’ll be taking the class at Gainesville’s Frances Meadows Aquatic Center in the upcoming weeks.

I’m nervous, excited, but mostly ready. It’s taken me 23 long years, but I’m going to learn how to swim.