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Name: Melon Dash
Business: Miracle Swimming for Adults, swimming classes for adults
Industry: Other — Adult learn to swim
Location: Sarasota, Florida, U.S.
Reason for starting: I had taught college students Beginning Swimming at Keene State College as a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor. But for two semesters I noticed that though I was teaching Beginnning Swimming, it was too advanced for exactly half of my students. My students were not unintelligent. They were not stubborn. They were showing up at 8 a.m. for swimming class in a cold pool. They were motivated people who wanted to learn to swim. But I was not meeting them at their level by teaching the curriculum of Beginning Swimming. I needed to teach them something else.
They needed more basic information: how can I feel safe here? How does the water work? How can I prevent water from going into my nose? How do I prevent myself from panicking? How do I make sure I don’t sink? These questions are not addressed in traditional swimming lessons. In traditional lessons, it’s presumed that either you already know those answers, or that learning flutter kick and freestyle armstrokes will teach them to you. However, this is not how learning to swim works for adults. In fact, it works the opposite way: a person cannot learn flutter kick and freestyle arm strokes– with breathing while feeling safe in deep water– unless they have satisfied those questions for themselves. This is what was missing in swimming lessons, is still missing in traditional lessons, and it’s the gap Miracle Swimming closed in 1983. It is the raison d’être of Miracle Swimming and it’s 32 years of success.
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How do you define success? Attain my goals. Attain stepping stone goals along the way to my main goals. That looks like: adults who used to be afraid in water are no longer terrified; can swim indefinitely in deep water; can swim peacefully in open water; go snorkeling on personal vacations; become scuba divers; assist in our classes to give back; become Miracle Swimming instructors, themselves; use swimming for recreation or exercise for the rest of their lives. For me: I train enough instructors that my system becomes dominant; drowning ends in the U.S.; drowning ends worldwide. I get enough rest as an employee; I pass on my system to good stewards of it who will carry it forward and grow it when I leave.
Biggest Success: 5000 adults whose lives have changed; New York Times in 2014; USA Today in 2014; Today Show in 2006; USA Swimming official recognized us as being the program that should precede all others in learn-to-swim in 2015. We have trained Over 50 licensed instructors around the world.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? There have been two top challenges: For decades, adult non swimmers didn’t believe that we offered anything different. They said, “Sure, we’ve heard teachers say they could teach us to swim. But their lessons were just as bad as the last ones. I’m not going to pay more only to be disappointed again.” It took 30 years to convince them by finding new ways to describe our teaching, providing 100% of our students’ testimonials, articles in the New York Times and USA Today in 2014, and making my book and DVD available at Amazon.com where anyone can search for “learn to swim books” and find mine. Now people go to our website, see a new world of learning revealed, and sign up.
Related: Read about another female entrepreneur creating a place for adults to enjoy recreational sports here.
Our current top challenge: Convincing the Red Cross, the Y, U.S. Masters Swimming, National Swimming Pool Foundation, National Drowning Prevention Alliance, and many other organizations that their swim instructors could learn something new that would empower them to be far more successful with adult students; that the curriculum they’re using for kids is not to be applied to adults; that doing so is damaging afraid-in-water adults; that a new paradigm is imperative for the success of Adult Learn-to-Swim; and that the definition of, “I can swim” should not be, “I can move my arms like this for 25 yards,” but “I can rely on myself for my safety in deep water.”
Who is your most important role model? Leslie Strebel, Emyth Coach.
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Edited by The Story Exchange