If I could talk to April Me, who was so full of hope as we were flattening the curve, staying home, and winning the war on COVID-19, I think I would say, “buckle up, this is just the beginning.”

I live a high stress, busy, non-stop life. I tell my doctors that I don’t choose a stressful lifestyle, but let’s be honest, working full time as a school counselor and running a swim school where you are one of two instructors is incredibly stressful. I thrive on these high-pressure situations, having barely enough time to eat dinner before I finish up paperwork or email before I crawl into bed exhausted. I love it.

These past few months have been difficult. I need to find ways to control the world crumbling around me. I can’t leave my house, I can’t find ways to fill each minute to the brim as I had in the past. I’m terrified to go to the grocery store. Of course, since we reopened I have classes to teach and that helps tremendously. But there are only so many classes that can be taught during a pandemic. So I have turned to using what I know to calm my body and my mind; I swim.

Every day I make time for myself to hit the pool in my face shield and exercise for 45-60 minutes. I run, I lunge, I squat, I do aqua pilates and when I finish all of that I spend time doing Ai Chi. Not sure what Ai Chi is? It is like Tai Chi but in the water and it completely quiets my mind as I focus on breathing and holding each pose. I breathe. I feel the anxiety run out through my fingertips.

We have so many things we cannot control right now. Our mental health is at risk of becoming so fragile - so we must among other things take care of our emotional self. Thirty minutes of exercise a day to strengthen your muscles, to release your anxiety, let go of what we cannot control is one of the most helpful things we can for ourselves right now. None of us can be sure where this pandemic is headed, but we can continue to take steps to take care of ourselves.

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No one expected that two random women - who have only known each other for little over a year - would start a swimming business in southwest Florida, especially the two random women. But that is what happened and thus, birthed Swim Tutors USA. Late nights at Panara bread co. is just one of the factors that started our growing business. The reason I bring this up is to place remembrance on businesses that represent a smaller demographic in this time.

That being said, we do not compare ourselves to any minority group or any other group that has gone through immense opposition. With recognition of pride month and the realization of police brutality, our support will always go to them and the atrocities they face.

According to nawbo.org, women owned businesses employ about 9% of employment in the United States. But that statistic was back in 2017, and as we know, the employment rate has gone down significantly due to the Covid 19 pandemic. This is why it is so important to take the extra effort in going out to your local establishment in support of them, especially ones who represent a smaller community.

In our case, let us say you do not need any swimming lessons or someone you know does not as well, how can you support? Besides being a prevalent figure in our social media, liking and supporting any drowning prevention or sharing information on that to your family and friends can help drastically. Not only are you spreading the word on awareness for that issue, but also help lead people to finding swim lessons in their area.

In the end, supporting any small business, whether woman owned or not, is important in the economy, as we have learned these past couple of months. So keep sharing, liking, and commenting on those posts. It will definitely be appreciated.

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On March 14th we shut down our classes - drowning prevention for us essentially stopped. Of course, we have drowning prevention materials in our free online class (check our website for info!). We cannot tell a lie, it’s been difficult to stay home, flatten the curve, and not be a part of our swimmer’s lives. We know that the number one cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 is drowning. Read that again!

So we are doing everything we can to adjust to the new normal so we can get back to teaching swimming and working on drowning prevention ASAP! Some of the changes you should expect will be very noticeable:

  • Instructors will be wearing masks and face shields

  • Instructors have a health log to fill out before class that includes student and instructor temp taking (we have no contact temperature guns)

  • We will be using outside entrances/exits

  • Social distancing on deck is a must-do!

  • Hand sanitizer before each class for instructor

Some things you may not see, that we are doing - we have UV boxes for toys and will continue to use a childsafe cleaner called CleanSmart. We may make other changes too as we work with the health department, our association USSSA on best practices, and follow the guidance of the CDC. We have been heavily involved with our association in creating the best practices to get back into the water as soon as possible. Additionally, we have joined with other swim schools in our association across the nation to do the following:

  • Write letters to the Governor of Florida, our national and local leaders asking to re-open our swim school as we are essential to teaching our kids life-saving skills.

  • Creating best practices to keep kids safe in the water

  • Working with the CDC to follow their guidelines when re-opening

Whew! Adjusting to this new normal is incredibly difficult for everyone. We know it causes fatigue, mental stress, and a sense of loss. We are doing everything we can get back to the water and your kids even if things look completely different. As always, we welcome your input, and can’t wait to swim with you! Hopefully sooner rather than later!

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