I stood in a hotel pool in Sarasota, Florida, about to put my face in the water. I was taking the first step in overcoming a lifelong fear of being in water over my head. I hated the roar of it rushing into my ears and then, that silence—it felt like being buried alive.
It was day one of a five-day intensive beginner course with Miracle Swimming. Since 1983, founder Mary Ellen “Melon” Dash ’76 has preached a more compassionate, practical, and, above all, fun way for fearful adults like me to relax in the water. Over the next five days, I went from blinking back tears of fear to playing underwater games. This was both surprising and liberating, after a lifetime of poolside terror.
As a traditional water safety instructor, Dash noticed many students in her beginner classes were so gripped with fear they couldn’t move past standing in the pool, no matter how she tried to help. For the first time, she questioned the methods she had learned in her training.