We are excited to introduce you to our new blog – Bear Tracks. Bear Tracks is a place for us to pool our thoughts, ideas, and philosophies in order to share them with you! It is a venue to express our two passions: swimming and kids! We will also cover fun parenting tools and other family-centered information.
First things first. . .
Let me start by introducing myself (or re-introducing in most cases) and giving you a little bit of our swim school’s history. My name is Katie Hall and my husband Tim and I own Silver Bear Swim School. I am also a mom to three amazing kids ages 6, 9 and 11.
Staring Silver Bear has been the best part of my swimming journey thus far, but that is not where the story begins.
Swimming has been something that I have done since I was six years old. I barely remember a time when swimming was not a huge part of my life. I grew up participating in a summer recreational swim league and eventually moved to a United States club team for my high school years. I was fortunate enough to earn the opportunity to swim at the collegiate level and swam at U.C. Berkeley under Olympic Coach, Teri McKeever for four years. Swimming at Cal was the culmination of countless hours of hard work and time spent in the sport. More than anything, swimming in college brought me a new appreciation for all the gifts/tools swimming gave me and the desire to share those lessons with others. However, it took me a while to see how to apply them.
Feeling a bit water logged after college, I set off to find my “real” job in San Francisco. Even though I swore I would never set foot in another pool, inevitably I found myself staring at the black line again in no time. Enter the Olympic Club, an athletic club that had a masters swim program. Swimming with the masters team is how I met Tim. Yep. We met at a pool. Wearing speedos. How apropos. It is our perfect aquatic love story. Tim was swimming with the team while training for an Ironman, and I was trying to fight corporate life boredom. While I would never regret those years in the S.F. corporate world – after all it was how I met my husband – I did feel like I was unfulfilled in my professional life. When I thought about what really inspired me, I kept coming back to working with children, but the aha moment was yet to come.
It was around this same time that Tim got relocated to Reno for a new job opportunity. So what does a swimmer do in a new town when she feels lost and alone? Find a pool to make her feel more at home. Easier said than done in Reno! Looking for a pool to workout in made me realize how limited and seasonal most of the learn-to-swim aquatics programs in the area were. This is ultimately how the idea of SBSS was born.
With a desire to fill a community need and encouragement from wonderful mentors in the industry, we opened our Reno pool in 2006 and have been teaching babies and children to swim for 10 years and counting. in 2012 we expanded into Sparks and have enjoyed serving that community for the last four years.
I often get asked why I wanted to work with beginner swimmers. Why not coach elite swimmers? The answer is easy. Elite athletes are singularly focused, under a lot of pressure and often fighting burn out. I want to be there when a child first finds his love for the water. I want to be a part of the swimming journey in the most fun phase – before the pressure of competition kicks in. Before a swimmer grows out of creative and imaginative play. Before swimming in a pool becomes work or a job. I love when children are in the “soak it all up like a sponge” stage. I delight in seeing the light bulb go on. I triumph when I know a child has truly learned to respect the water. Most importantly, I love the role I play as a teacher in their lives.
Children need to be encouraged. They need to be reminded of how wonderful they are. They need to be believed in, told they are brave, smart and capable. Children need to have fun. This is our lesson approach and philosophy. How is that not the best job ever? I would not change it for the world.
My swim journey is not over yet – after all swimming is a lifetime sport and our work in this community is far from over! Tim and I look forward to creating the rest of our Silver Bear story with you in the years ahead.
In the meantime, have fun wading through our pages as they become available – we look forward to sharing with you!