Stephens is the owner and head instructor at Metropolitan Swim Instruction, a D.C. company that offers lessons across the area.
How did you become a swimming instructor?
I grew up in Virginia Beach. When I was 6 months old, my mom put me in swim class. As I got older, I really found that I really, really loved to teach. ... I decided to start my own business. I've taught every age and ability at this point.
Is there a certain age children should start learning to swim?
As early as possible. I recommend 6 months. If you can't get your child in the water then, I definitely suggest at around the 3-year-old range. They take in new things a lot easier than at age 7 or 8. The longer you wait, the more the fear might internalize.
What challenges do new swimmers face?
A lot of times, people have a fear of what they've read and what they've heard. People have this huge fear of sinking to the bottom of the pool and not being able to get back up. Part of our role as an instructor is to establish confidence in them ... so they feel comfortable to get themselves in and out of the water on their own.
What are some important things for new swimmers to know?
Proper breathing is everything. People don't really know how to breath properly in the water, and that makes a difference in their relaxation. For a child, there's more issues with being away from their parents. We teach them to be independent.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
The biggest joy I get is when my students get skills. People getting used to the deep end and people jumping in and jumping out. That makes me feel comfortable as an instructor and makes me feel really good. I really, really love knowing that when my students leave, they're good to go. That makes me sleep better at night.
- Emily Babay