ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – This week’s weather is a reminder that spring and summer are just around the corner. As the weather gets warmer, cooling off by taking a swim might start to become an appealing option once again.
Swimming is an all-inclusive sport and a great form of exercise, but to really enjoy it you need to know how to handle yourself in the water.
Ashley Serrago, a former D-1 swimmer with the Sienna College swim team, now does private swim lessons for children, adults, and children with special needs or physical disabilities.
“One of the places that [children with autism] are most attracted to is water,” says Serrago. “So, having a child with autism that’s not comfortable or does not know water safety is very troubling to me as a swim instructor, and also is very dangerous for the child.”
Serrago was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and says that swimming helped calm her mind and focus on one thing at a time because the sport is so detailed and physically exhausting.
Serrago says the focus she gained from swimming translated into other areas of her life, and even benefitted her in school.
The private classes focus on positive psychology and redirecting people’s negative connotations about water and swimming.
Serrago says while swimming can be a big help, it’s important for kids with special needs to learn the basics of water safety. For a child with special needs, learning those basic steps could be a life saver.
When it comes to water safety, every step is a building block. Serrago says it’s important to start with a good foundation and then push beyond that point of comfort.
“You want to build off of what you’re comfortable with,” says Serrago. “And then the next lesson we build on that. So by the end of our lessons you’ve got a new house. You know how to swim.”
For children with special needs, a body of water can be a calming refuge from sensory overload because it is so quiet underwater. The pool can also be a great place to let out excess energy.
“You don’t have so much feedback coming in from different places, so you’re just alone with your own thoughts,” says Serrago. “Sometimes people that have running minds need that extra time to get everything in order to have it come out right.”