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Operation: So Long Doggie Paddle

By Megan Pavia, Development Associate for the YMCA of Greenwich

I have a secret… I can’t swim. There it is, out in the open.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been blogging about my adventures in Y aerobics. I’ve had a blast participating in classes like Body Barre and Boxing. Meeting so many Y members and chatting up my experience in exploring Y fitness has been such a treat.

That is, until the dreaded question came up… “So Megan, Have you been in the pool yet?”

UGH! I was totally trying to avoid this, but that preverbal cat was bound to come leaping out of the bag! So here I was, confiding to our swim school coordinator, Samantha Lusher that, no, I haven’t been in the pool and, oh yeah, I also have a crippling fear of water…. Did I mention that our CEO Ed Philipp overheard all of this?…

“That’s it Megan, You’ve got to take the plunge!” Ed words rang through my head as I flashed back to days when, as a small child, I’d ride along as my mom dropped off my older brother at the New Canaan Y for swim lessons –  waiting for my turn, which never came. I came to the realization that here I was, a 24 years old who has survived on nothing but the doggie-paddle.

The more I thought about it, I realized that not being able to swim had really affected me. I constantly avoided water and swimming as a kid. Every year at summer camp I would fail my swim test miserably. This resulted in then being unable to participate in any (fun) water front activities or hanging out with my friends. As a defense, I would pretend to be disgusted with the camp lake.  But the reality was that I was so embarrassed and too scared to ask for help.

I spent the next 10 years avoiding the water. I never went past my ankles at the beach. Not being able to swim became a full fledged fear. A few summers ago at Lake George, I was on a boat with a group of friends that collided with another boat in the harbor. If that wasn’t scary enough, my arm got stuck in between two boats. After dozens of stitches later and months of pain I swore off water and swimming all together.

So with Ed telling me to take the plunge and Sam’s encouragement I thought I would give it another shot. Operation: So Long Doggie Paddle was in full effect.

DSC_0297I have to tell you, Samantha Lusher is a miracle worker. In one 30-minute session, I had mastered all of the mechanics and was actually SWIMMING!  She gradually encouraged me to hold my breath and demonstrate how to breathe mid stroke. I could tell that she genuinely wanted to help me. She was mindful of my fears and offered directions on ways to “swim” over those obstacles. We agreed to continue my lessons every week. I am now on my third lesson and it’s become something I look forward to. I’ve continued to test Samantha’s patience but her enthusiasm has never let up!

According to USA Swimming, 65% of American’s do not know how to swim. In addition 3 out of 4 accidental drowns happened to people over the age of 14. I will continue to practice and strengthen this new found skill. I guess that I’m an example of “it’s never too late”. I have defied becoming another statistic.

So I conquered a fear, learned a new skill by heeding my boss’ challenge to “take the plunge!” The Y’s hosting an all Y Challenge on Sunday, November 17th. You’ll be sure to see me participating in all the challenges, especially the aquatics one! Click here for more information or to help me meet my fundraising goal! You don’t have to conquer a fear, just help me participate in a morning of fun to help our Y. My goal? To see you in the pool!

That’s My Y story, What’s yours?

Megan_HeadshotBorn & Raised in Stamford, CT,  Megan Pavia is an Eastern Connecticut State University Grad w/ BA in  Communication. Megan is currently the Development Associate for the  YMCA of Greenwich. She is a YMCA Camp Mohawk alumni who’s obsessed with her dalmatian Rocky, an avid Animal lover and Vegetarian.