No Fears or Tears at First Mobile Swim Lesson


Three-year-old Beckham Ellingson doesn’t usually like the water but shocked his mother by doing so well during his first swim lesson. “We have a hard time with the shower and bath. He doesn’t like his face wet,” says Karli. “But no tears today.” Beckham is one of several neighborhood children, including his older brother, Lincoln, 5, who signed up for the Tampa YMCA’s Mobile Water Safety Team, a mobile swim program generously funded by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.


Three-year-old Laila Malek’s mother has the opposite problem with her daughter. “My biggest concern is that she is not afraid of water,” says Victoria. “I needed her to learn as soon as possible. We have a pool at home.”


Three-year-old Ryder O’Toole’s mother was also concerned about water safety and liked the convenience of Y swim instructors and lifeguards coming to their neighborhood pool. “You hear about drownings on the news. So, I knew I wanted to get him started and this would be a good introduction,” says Kristin LaMarre. “He definitely did better than I thought he would. I thought there would be more crocodile tears.”


Karli had the same concerns. “We don’t have a pool at home but Grandpa does,” she says. “We’re not from Florida. We’re from Utah where there’s no water and we came here and there’s water, like ponds, everywhere.”


Lincoln is the only child in the group who took lessons from the Mobile Water Safety Team last year but his mom felt he needed more. “He still swims with a floatie,” Karli says. “So, this is the big summer where we want both of them in the water without the floatie.” Y Swim Instructor Sarah McAniff thinks all the children did a really good job during the week of June 10. “Some of them were a little bit nervous about being in the water but after a while they get used to it.”


Thanks to the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County for helping the Y provide mobile swim lessons and water safety education at no cost. The program serves 1,272 children at a total of 53 properties throughout the year. The program also provides a session of five free private swim lessons to 119 children with special needs throughout Hillsborough County. For more information, contact Mobile Swim Director Chris Alaynick at 813.224.9622 ext. 1292 or



Pictured above: Y Instructor Sarah McAniff teaching Lincoln Ellingson, 5, at Grand Hampton.

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