Most mornings lap swimmers in the far lane at my YMCA pool get booted at some point to make room for children from the attached elementary school.
The children come in for swimming lessons, but I swim there three to four mornings a week and have almost never seen a lesson given.
Instead, the children are released into the far lane and, like any group of unsupervised kids in a pool, they begin to go nuts – jumping in and out of the other lap lanes, balancing on the rope, splashing like crazy...
I don’t mind any of their behavior, I really don’t. If I were a kid in the pool without any adult supervision, I’d be doing the same.
What does bother me is that they never get an actual swim lesson.
Whenever I see this happening, I break from my workout to ask the nearest 'official looking' adult what is going on and I am always told that the kids are having “free time.”
The kids deserve a real lesson. Their parents aren't there to see what is happening.
I have repeatedly complained at the front desk.
Today, the young woman in charge of the children (we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and call her the swim teacher) sat on a bench at the side of the pool busily bent over a stack of papers.
She didn’t even glance in the direction of the young boys she was supposed to supervise.
The boys jumped in the water, swam one length and then got busy being unsupervised boys in a pool.
I stopped my workout in the middle of my lane, stood up and asked the swim teacher why the kids weren’t getting a lesson. Again with the “free time” answer.
“Why is it that they never get a lesson? All they ever have is free time. Couldn’t you teach them something?”
[Oh, how I cower at the mere idea of confrontation. NOT.]
“They deserve a lesson,” I told her, “They deserve your attention.”
She shrugged and went back to work on her stack of papers.
Soon all the boys were creating a splash fest in my lane.
I swim hard. I won’t necessarily see kids in my lane until I’m swimming right over them. Their presence in my lane is dangerous for them and for me.
[Because me strong like bull.]
How could she not even watch them for SAFETY? Children, in a pool, under her supervision… is it me or do they not, at minimum, deserve life guarding?
Narrowly avoiding making pulp out of the group of boys I stood up again and this time I yelled at the "teacher.”
“YOU’RE NOT EVEN WATCHING THEM!” I screamed.
[Troublemaking busy body that I am.]
You know what she did?
She yelled at the boys and kicked them out of the pool.
That is when I lost my cool.
I stood in the center of the pool in my swim cap, goggles and Speedo and I released upon her... the WRATH OF JOY.
[OH, THE JOY OF YELLING LOUDLY...]
“I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE KICKING THEM OUT FOR BEING BOYS!! YOU ARE THE ONE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!! YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THEIR TEACHER! HOW CAN YOU PUNISH THEM FOR BEING KIDS WHEN IT IS YOUR JOB TO SUPERVISE THEM?"
[This was followed with further RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION, delivered at a high volume, using that tone of voice that my mom hates...]
When I finished my workout, I showered, got dressed and went to the front office.
I asked to speak to the director.
She took me to her office.
“I want to confess and to complain,” I told her. “First, I want to confess that I yelled at your swim teacher. But I also want to complain that the children never get a lesson.”
I went on and on about how they deserved to have a proper lesson, how they deserved to be supervised… how they deserved attention from the adult caring for them.
The director told me that all the boys really needed to learn in the class was to swim one length of the pool.
I stared at her for a moment.
“Well, they can do that,” I said. “But doesn’t that tell you that they are capable of doing more? Doesn't it indicate that these young boys are full of potential?"
I paused again.
"Teach them to FLY.”