Swim Instructor and Lifeguard
Jeep Rogers Family YMCA
YMCA Swim Instructor Patrick Weekley just turned 21 this month and has already made a bigger impact on the lives of kids than most people will in an entire lifetime!
While his peers were enjoying summer vacations, Patrick taught over 500 private swim lessons from June to August of this year. Wow! On top of those 500 private lessons, he also taught group swim lessons to the 200 children in our Summer Camp.
[su_quote]“As the saying goes, the earth is 70% water and kids are 100% curious,” says Patrick. “I want to make sure kids know that water is not there to hurt them, they don’t need to be afraid, but they do need to know how to move in it and what safety measures to take.”[/su_quote]
Like most people, Patrick had that one scary moment in the water, at a young age he slipped under the water and what was only seconds, felt like a lifetime. It was his mom that pulled him safely out of the water that day. “I was never very afraid of the water but was very curious,” explained Patrick. “So later, both my parents taught me how to swim at a lake in Connecticut.” He has been an avid swimmer ever since.
Patrick was born in California, where most of his family still resides, but moved around a lot. He is the youngest of six kids, all of which were homeschooled. His family settled in South Carolina seven years ago, and it wasn’t long before Patrick joined the Jeep Rogers Mudcat Swim Team in 2016. It was with the Mudcats that he learned to polish his swim technique and started to develop an interest in teaching others.
Patrick remembers, “All of my swim coaches really cared and they were so helpful. They took months of their time to help me, and I looked up to them and wanted to be like them.”
In July of 2017 he officially joined the YMCA Jeep Rogers Team as a lifeguard. He shadowed the head lifeguard and learned about water safety and teaching people to swim. “I was blessed to have those peers and co-workers who were passionate about swim lessons and made me passionate about them too.”
Patrick began teaching lessons in November of 2017 and learned that one of the main keys to teaching is making sure the kids are listening, “if they are not listening, they are not learning.”
Secondly, it is important to always be relaxed, focused, and a source of encouragement. “Some of these kids are experiencing water for the first time. It is important for me to remain calm and patient no matter what the circumstance, which is very beneficial to them.” Patrick’s goal is to make lessons a fun experience where they can focus on learning and not their fear. He adds, “each swimmer has their own challenges, learning how to adapt to teach them is always a welcome challenge and experience for me.”
We know Patrick is absolutely doing something right because he has had many of his kids not only pass the swim test, but go on to compete on high school swim teams or with the Y. “It’s such a cool moment to see kids I taught pass the swim test or move on to swim teams. It’s an awesome moment.” He credits both his parent’s for instilling a strong work ethic and stressing the importance of kindness and patience.
Patrick has been teaching for five years now and his next goal is to become a Swim Instructor Trainer as a way to keep giving back. While he hopes to always be able to teach people to swim, he is also working on becoming a Visual Effects Artist. Patrick has been taking online courses in film making and is saving money to hopefully take part in an internship soon.
The Jeep Rogers Family YMCA is incredibly grateful to Patrick. “He is such a valuable part of our Aquatics Team,” says Aquatics Director Amy Dodson. “I have enjoyed seeing his growth. He truly cares about each and every person he teaches and has made a tremendous impact on our community through teaching water safety.”
“Teaching at the Y has never just been about making money,” explains Patrick. “It’s a passion and that is why I continue to teach. I love changing people’s lives for the better.”
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