Group of ladies swims for the first time

Life-long dreams come true for a group of McNeese State University employees, learning to swim.

Linda Staves has always been an onlooker at the swimming pool and a spectator on family beach vacations, never knowing how to swim.  "I think I had a fear of the water and so it's been a life-long dream really for me to learn how to swim," she said.

When this financial aid officer at MSU was offered the free opportunity to learn to swim through a workplace wellness program with CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital, she knew it was time to take the plunge.  "This is one of the things that I would say was on my bucket list of things that I would do, that I would learn to do," she said.  "When I heard that it was an adult swim class, I thought, 'well this is my opportunity.'"

Staves quickly learned she was not alone: ten other women signed up for the three week long swimming class with instructor, Pat Pickett.  The class started with the basics of breathing underwater and floating.  "We built some confidence with them that way, but we also did talk about what if you or somebody else gets into a scary or dangerous situation.   What can you do?" said Pickett.

Safety and simplicity is key in teaching adults to swim.  When they prove they can do it, Pickett says there is nothing more satisfying.  "Oh my goodness!  What a high," said Pickett, "it's awesome. Teaching people to swim is wonderful, it's really fun because learning to swim is not that difficult, but it's them teaching themselves that they can do it."

This workplace wellness initiative was made available to all university faculty and staff.  CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital workplace wellness coordinator Louise McDaniel says, "We are always looking at ways to provide education and different opportunities and classes, so that our participants can continue to be happy, healthy and well."

That is exactly how Staves feels now that this bucket list item is checked off.  "I can't wait until the opportunity comes up where we're on vacation and I too can get into the water and swim along with the rest of my family," she said.

Some of the other free workplace wellness programs have included yoga, spin, kickboxing and aerobic walking.

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