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Posted at 2:09 PM ET, 03/ 2/2007

Get in the Water

By Julia Beizer

Swimming's kind of a strange activity, when you think about it. Wear awkward suit. Get in cold water. Try to stay afloat. If I hadn't learned how to do it at such a young age, I'm not sure I'd have the courage to learn now. That's why this question from yesterday's Got Plans? caught my attention:

Washington D.C.: I'm looking to take swimming classes, either group lessons or preferably individual lessons...for an adult beginner who is petrified of water but is trying to overcome the fear! Know of any good places to learn swimming?

We didn't get a chance to answer this question during yesterday's chat, but I think this brave guy or gal deserves a few options. Today, I spoke with Donnie Shaw, who is now the director of community relations for the National Capital YMCA and used to be its aquatics director. He recommended the Anthony Bowen branch of the YMCA in addition to his own branch of the Y.

The National Capital Branch offers individual lessons for adult beginners. The cost is $45 per lesson for YMCA members and $55 per lesson for nonmembers. (You can buy three or six lessons at a time and that brings the cost down significantly.) Shaw reccommends becoming a member so you can practice your strokes outside of lesson time. "To go from having a fear of water to swimming laps can take a year," says Shaw. Practicing helps timid swimmers shorten that time and perfect their strokes. "Once you got it, you got it for good -- it's like riding a bike," he says.

The questioner above didn't seem particularly interested in group lessons, but that's another, more affordable way to learn. The Bowen branch is "a small intimate pool, very conducive to people with extreme water fear," Shaw says. The pool is only 6 feet at its deepest point and is heated to 89 degrees (about seven degrees warmer than the National Capitol's pool). Bryant Ballantine, the aquatics director at the Bowen branch, teaches adult beginner classes on Saturdays between noon and 1 p.m. Classes can accommodate up to 12 people and cost $65 for an 8-week session (the cost is $60 for YMCA members). The next session starts on March 10. The National Capital branch offers 8-week adult beginner group lessons on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. The fee is $89 for members and $120 for nonmembers. The next session begins March 5.


By Julia Beizer  | March 2, 2007; 2:09 PM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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Looking for somewhere to brew beer. I've never done it before, and would like to go to one of those places where they have the equipment, storage space, and offer advice. Rumor has it that there are several of these on-site homebreweries around DC but I can't find them.

Posted by: In DC | March 5, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

i took group beginner swimming lessons at the silver spring Y and they were great!

Posted by: jen | March 6, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

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