Twenty-six-year-old Chrissy Roering was the captain of her high school swim team in Blaine and named Most Valuable Player two years in a row.
The rural Brainerd resident, who began swimming lessons at age 7, decided to utilize her skills by starting her own learn to swim business called Safe Swim Minnesota. She started out with 19 students and her business has grown to 83 students.
"There're so many drownings every year and it's preventable," said Roering. "If I can make a difference with somebody (by saving their life) it'd make me feel a lot better.
"There's a need for swimming lessons in this area since there are so many lakes. People can easily fall off the dock or their boat and drown so being able to swim is a life skill people should learn especially if they live in the lakes area."
Safe Swim Minnesota instructor Chrissy Roering recently waited for her student, Elijah Keppers, 6, to swim halfway across the pool at the Red Roof Inn. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Roering teaches students at the pools at the Red Roof Inn in Brainerd and at the Days Inn in Nisswa. Roering only allows a maximum of four students per class so everyone gets the attention they need to learn how to swim.
Roering offers 30-minute lessons once a week that last on average about eight weeks and run from 2:45-8 p.m. Classes are $75 per child and private one-on-one lessons and semi-private, where two siblings are taught, also are offered. Roering offers classes for all age groups and also offers a junior swim team program for children ages 11-13 and a swim team program for children ages 13-18.
As a child, Roering was always drawn to the water and she joined her high school swim team at 13. After high school, Roering went on to teach swimming lessons at a private swim school in the Twin Cities called Foss Swim School.
"That's where I fell in love with teaching swimming lessons," said Roering. "When I moved here with my boyfriend I wanted to continue to teach swimming lessons. I could have taught at the Y (Brainerd YMCA) but coming from Foss it was hard to go to the larger class sizes and I wanted to start something on my own."
If you were a fish what fish would you be?: "A clown fish because I like to make the kids laugh."
Lesson in life: "To take chances. I think people fail at something and then don't want to try it again, but you have to keep trying because that's how you learn."
Inspirational quote: "Shoot for the moon, but even if you miss you'll land among the stars."
Most random thing you have done: "I took a road trip to Denver after work one day. I was 19 and I worked at a movie theater and we were watching a movie about skiing in Colorado. So three of us got in a car and drove there to go skiing. We ended up not going skiing, we just turned around and then went back home."
If you were a kid again what would you do?: "I would play an instrument, like the flute. As you get older your musical tastes change and I wish I would have taken the time to learn to play something when I was younger."
Any bloopers: "I'm a klutz out of the water. I could be carrying equipment or something and I drop things or I'll trip. It happens quite often."
Favorite movie: "'Meet the Robinsons.' We have like 450 DVDs at home, we're movie buffs."
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The YMCA and the Hallett Community Center in Crosby both offer swimming lessons in the area, but Roering said she felt there was still a need in the community for more classes.
Roering said besides her rigorous training at Foss Swim School, she's working on receiving a certificate to be a Red Cross Water Safety instructor.
Roering said the most important water skill for a student to learn is getting from Point A to Point B. Roering has a "magic island" that moves around in the water and students have to swim to the island that she controls. She said this skill teaches students on how to conserve their energy when swimming distances. Roering also teaches students how to breath when swimming. Instead of the traditional way of lifting the head out of the water to take a breath, she has her students flip on their back to take a breath.
"When you lift your head out of the water one inch, your feet fall three inches and for beginning swimmers it's hard for them to get back in position if they breath this way," said Roering.
Roering, who uses games to teach children, said another skill is called "Chop Chop Timber," where the child jumps into the water, turns around and swims to the side of the pool. Roering said this skill is used during her Safety Day that is done with every swimming lesson session.
"Students jump into the pool with their clothes on to play this game on Safety Day," said Roering. "We do Safety Day so the students learn skills on what they need to do in an emergency situation because that's important. They learn how to throw buoys and what to do if they get into trouble in the water."
To learn more about Roering's swimming lesson business, go to www.safeswimminnesota.com. Roering said people can register online for a class or by calling her. Her Web site includes class descriptions and cost.
Outside of swimming, Roering's other interests include scrapbooking, reading and gardening.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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