Larissa's Story

Welcome to Swimmunity, an online swim community dedicated to inspiring and helping adults learn how to swim. If you've been thinking about learning to swim as an adult, but have been reluctant to take the steps necessary to make it happen, perhaps my story can provide a little inspiration. 


How Larissa Finally Learned to Swim
(and no, it really wasn't rocket science after all!)

Learning to swim is a very personal accomplishment for me. For 40 years I was the kid (and then adult) who missed out on all kinds of water activities because I didn't know how to swim. Being the "odd man out" isn't any fun and I carried that label with me for an excruciatingly long time. 


It's not that I never had lessons, because my parents dutifully enrolled me when I was 7 or 8 years old. But, for reasons still unknown, I wasn't comfortable in the water and the lessons just didn't take. Not even a little. 


Finally, in May 2010, as I was eyeing the end of my MBA program, I decided to plan a graduation vacation celebration ("a vacation of a lifetime") to ... of all places ... Tahiti (in May 2011). Despite my inability to swim, I have always been lured by beautiful beaches and water. With my vacation destination set, I knew it would be a mistake if I didn't first learn how to swim. (I have an odd interest in emergency management and even did some training through FEMA, so the contingency planner in me is all about water safety! There was no way I was taking that vacation without knowing how to swim.) 


I started looking for a place to take swim lessons right away in May 2010, but couldn't figure out where to go (or which program was best), so my efforts stalled and I began procrastinating the decision. Being a marketing professional, I eventually realized I had become a victim of cognitive dissonance (a fancy way of saying I couldn't make a buying decision until I had more information to nudge me into the act of buying). After a couple of word-of-mouth recommendations and a self-scolding for being so annoyingly indecisive, I threw caution to the wind and hoped (beyond hope) that I had made the right choice. I selected Foss Swim School (Chanhassen, Minnesota).  


Luckily, I picked the right school. My instructor was phenomenal, Foss' swim technique was awesome and after 9 months of lessons, I was officially a swimmer. Honestly, this is one of (if not THE) proudest accomplishments of my life because I moved swimming from my personal "I can't do that" list onto my "I'm really good at that" list. I never would have imagined that was even possible. 


Today I can swim all four strokes, I swim 4-5 times per week and I'm planning to compete in US Masters Swimming. After seeing me tackle swimming lessons, my Aunt Carol got inspired and now she's taking lessons too. So ... one inspired new swimmer down, one million one hundred million more to go! 


Now that I've made it to the proverbial other side (non-swimmer to swimmer), I am completely sympathetic to the adult who wants to learn, but just hasn't been able to make it happen. I know exactly what that feels like. And this site is here to change that. While I had been kicking the idea around for this web site for a little while, it wasn't until I came across this story about six drownings and two near-drownings in Minnesota lakes on one weekend (August 2, 2011) that I realized this was too important not to do.



While it is never too late to learn how to swim (age-wise), it IS too late to learn if you're already drowning. My inspiration to finally do this site comes from Mr. Javed (the drowning survivor) who was saved that weekend and who will thankfully get a second chance to take those swimming lessons. 


I know that if you're not a swimmer, you have a million questions. So, I hope this site will be that resource for you to get the inspiration and information you need to finally take swimming off of your "I can't do that" list. Go ahead, take the plunge. You just might surprise yourself!



Swimmer :)

Follow me on Twitter! @swimmunity


Larissa works full-time as a marketing executive in the health care industry and has a strong passion for using her skills to create positive change in the world, particularly where disparities exist. She serves on the board of directors of Minneapolis Swims, a grass-roots initiative to bring swimming lessons to the inner city children of Minneapolis. Larissa is also a member of the Twin Cities Water Safety Task ForceShe holds a bachelor of arts in English from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. In February 2012, Larissa was named a Next Gen Power 25 Leader by Aquatics International magazine. 


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