Meet our Swimming Instructors: the stories behind Vacswim’s dedicated teachers. Part 2.

15 April 2019

Robyn May, 53
Royal Life Saving, Cummins Pool

Robyn is a true lover of the water, and an extremely hardworking woman who, at 53, has a schedule overflowing with swimming commitments. "I've got a few different swimming hats on at this moment", says Robyn, "I work in the Port Lincoln Pool with the Department of Education, I work with special needs children on a Wednesday and a Friday, and then I work with the Department of Education in Port Lincoln for different schools."

She also works at the Cummins Pool, in her hometown, where she runs Vacswim classes and is passionate about giving these regional kids the same opportunities as their Adelaide City counterparts. "We've started up special needs swimming in Cummings, because we do it in Port Lincoln, it's like, 'well, hey! These kids in Cummins with special needs are entitled to it too, so let them do it.'", says Robyn. "So, we've organised that for probably the last four years now."

Recalling her first swimming lesson, Robyn says she was 21 when her friend, who was a swimming instructor, taught her proper breathing techniques. "She taught me to breath in and then breath out underwater, because I'd swim laps but I didn't know the breathing, so when I'd get out, I'd be dizzy. Once she taught me that, there was no stopping me. She was so vital in my learning.", says Robyn.

"When my oldest son who's now 26, went to kindy, I'd just swim for about 2 hours, just because I loved it and it was my thing." says Robyn, "He went to kindy four times a week, so I'd swim four times a week, because I lived out of town." When her other son was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she knew that swimming would be good for him, "I'd take him to the pool every day.", says Robyn.

Despite her passion, as a single mother, Robyn couldn't afford the fees involved with becoming an instructor for a long time. However, that never stopped her from helping on the sidelines, and volunteering in her sons' classes.

All of Robyn's own children have been through Vacswim, continuing those lessons until the age of 12, before completing their bronze medallions. Eventually, Robyn was living comfortably enough to get more involved herself. "I finally had the opportunity to do it, to go to Adelaide to do the course, and I've never looked back. I still love it, and it's not often that I don't want to go to work. I've probably had a million jobs, but I've stuck at this. This is just what I do, it's just my thing.", says Robyn.

From helping on the sidelines, Robyn has come a long way, and now teaching water skills, water safety, and swim technique has become her life. Despite Robyn's many accomplishments, what she's most proud of is the part she's played in her students' journeys. Speaking fondly, Robyn recalls a young girl whom she took under her wing, "When I first met Jade through school swimming, she might have been about nine, tucked under her mums arm crying because she didn't want to go in the pool", says Robyn. "Now Jade has won around six gold medals at the Paralympics!"

Known around town for always having her Vacswim book on her, Robyn is ready to sign up the local kids whenever their parents flag her down in the street. "It's just the country y'know? Just walking down the street, at the post office, at the IGA, I've even had people asking me to put their kids into Vacswim at a Christmas party, and I had all the paperwork to enrol them in the class, right there at the Christmas party", says Robyn. "That's how it is living rural."

"In the water I'm great, but this admin stuff does my head in", says Robyn, "and I don't charge for any of that, that admin time, that's my contribution". Despite the extra work load, Robyn still encourages all parents enrolling their kids rurally, to personally get in contact with their instructors before the program. "Online enrolment is a good way to go, but access the instructors number, and call them, so they can know you're enrolling before and start planning the classes", says Robyn.

Robyn is just one of the many passionate instructors and volunteers that bring the Vacswim program to life, to read our first in this series click here. For young kids living in Australia these skills are vital, so it's easy to see why people like Robyn have made it their life's work to help youth to become competent and confident in the water. So what are you waiting for? Get in quick, to enrol your little water babies in this essential learning experience.

Would you like to be involved in this program, click here.