Seniors who are learning to swim

December 8, 2010 3:11:01 PM PST
There are about ten drownings a day in the U.S. Many can be prevented by making sure that you and your family learn to swim. What about the senior members of your household? There's a class just for them.

I learned to swim from my father when I was about five. He was an Olympic swimmer, and I remember watching him teach even 70 year olds how to swim. There are a lot of adults that age who never had the chance to pick up the skill of surviving and flourishing in the water. As an example of "it's never too late," the 92nd Street Y is teaching these adults how to swim.

Swimming is good to learn at any age. It can keep you trim and extend your life.

One of the great things at the 92nd St. Y is that the water is purified with ozone. There's very little chlorine, so there's none of that chlorine burning your eyes.

That's good for beginners who may be afraid of putting their heads underwater, of getting water in the nose, or that they'll drown. With gentle teaching, they overcome fears and learn a life-saving skill.

"There are too many drownings. Too many drownings, especially in areas where there are no pools or swimming lessons," swim coach Mary Cannicott said.

That's just the type of place where Arnold Syrop grew up.

"I was a Flatbush kid. We would play stickball on the street and handball. We weren't very wealthy. All I did was study," he said.

Not now. Mr. Syrop wanted a sport he could do for the rest of his life, so he jumped in the pool. Swimming is a great sport for older people, there's muscle strengthening, weight loss and virtually no injuries. Arnold can now swim for an hour without stopping.

Private lessons cost about $60 for a half hour. There are group classes, which are cheaper, or you can bring a friend and have a class for two. Y members get a discount.

For more information, call the 92nd Street Y at 212-415-5703.