High Water Marks

Appears in the July 2019 issue.

Although Naperville’s Maverick Swim Club (mavswim.org) doesn’t offer swimming lessons, the club does stage tryouts for its competitive teams beginning with kids as young as 6 (and up to 18). Head coach and club founder Mark Townsend has seen just about every do and don’t when it comes to swimming preparedness over the past 25 years, and he has a few words of advice for parents.     


Advanced strokes can come in time. The first priority of any swimming program should be making sure kids feel comfortable and safe in the water, which means knowing the basics of learning to float, learning to hold a breath with his or her face in the water, and learning to make forward progress with the use of the arms and legs—both independently and cooperatively.


While they love fast swimmers, of course, Townsend and his staff love fast learners even more, which is why the most important characteristic they’re looking for in new swimmers is the ability to receive and implement instruction.  


In addition to friendly, knowledgeable instructors and a warm-water teaching pool, Townsend believes young swimmers really need a lesson program with multiple levels and specific guidelines for advancement so they can clearly see and build upon their progress.  

Photograph by John Jennings