The Learn to Swim experience started in 2017, involving eight enthusiastic students. We all shared the interest of swimming and wanted to put our skills into use which is how this experience was created. The Learn to Swim group worked with nine to eleven students from mainly Vasant Dada Patil Marathi School and occasionally NERE. I was very happy about the possibility of this opportunity for me to teach students a life-saving skill and as well as the basics of a sport that was important to me.
I knew that this was challenging considering that many of the students were afraid of the water and had a fear of drowning. However, we went step by step, and we made sure that we prepared ourselves for any problems that we anticipated. The objective of this experience was to teach them the basic techniques of swimming- treading, breathing drills, initial arm movement and more importantly help them to overcome the fear of drowning. As this experience continued for two years, the goal changed alongside the students’ development, which felt like milestones for us as student-teachers.
To successfully reach our objective, as the student leader of this group, I made sure that we collaborated and built lesson plans per week. These lesson plans helped us as student-teachers track the group’s improvement as well as organize ourselves before they came. We worked together as a group and formed and pitched ideas in our discussions and even during the sessions.
When I worked with Vanshika (one of the students from Vasant Dada Patil), I made sure that I communicated with her in Hindi and asked her if she was comfortable with the next step which was breathing drills for her. I wanted to establish that sense of comfort between her and me before we kept moving forward as that strengthened how we worked together and especially her enthusiasm in this activity. This helped me build a connection with Vanshika as well as promote a healthy surrounding.
Through this experience, personally, I recognized an improvement in my second language (Hindi) as I was using it as the main language to speak in with the students. The fact that my Hindi wasn’t always correct made them laugh sometimes which also helped show that even leaders make mistakes and made them feel in a more friendly environment where they were open and happier. I also felt that there was in an improvement in my leadership skills, I was able to lead discussions and make those choices for different days. For example, when the temperature was too low, I would consult with the teacher and organize an immediate backup game which would work on their physical strength for when they go back which was a problem we did face. I also got more confident through this experience with the choices I was making and I started believing in our group and that the effort we were putting in would pay off and they did!
This was more of a journey, where I learned about myself, the students, and the student-teachers. I am grateful for such an experience where I was able to connect with the students and teach them something I was passionate about but more importantly, I was happy teaching them a life-saving skill that they could apply later. We were able to achieve our goal and even move forward to trying different beginners drills for the freestyle swimming stroke!