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There always seems to be something you can add to your aquatics schedule.

Whether it’s for young or old swimmers, new or advanced, you want to reach a wide audience. At Mary Free Bed YMCA in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they have a wide range of activities for swimmers of all abilities.

“We offer fee-based swim lesson programs for ages beginning at six months all the way to adulthood,” said Erin Deal, the aquatics director. “We have group swim lessons as well as private lessons for swimmers of all abilities. For those interested in a competitive environment, we have our Rapid Area YMCA Swimmers swim team for youth ages 5 to 19. We also offer a Master’s Swim team for adults who are looking for a group of swimmers to train with for endurance, to become better swimmers, and some even to train for triathlons and open water swims.”

Plus, Deal said they have a large number of group fitness classes that also hit on a wide range of abilities. For example, they have Aqua Yoga and Aqua Arthritis that offer slower-paced environments. But they also have SPLASH Fitness, a fee-based program using stand-up paddleboards, as well as a Safety Around Water program, offered free to youth in low-income households.

But how does Mary Free Bed decide what programs to offer and what trends to consider? Deal shares more below:

CR: Why do you have the above programs?

ED: We try our best to serve as many members as we possibly can. By offering a range of activities from programs and classes to open swim, we are able to serve the needs of a large percentage of our membership base.

CR: How do you choose what swimming activities to provide?

ED: We look at trends from previous years as well as trends happening in aquatics across our communities. We try to adjust our schedules and programs we offer according to those trends and the needs of our members.

CR: What is currently trending in swimming trends?

ED: At the Mary Free Bed YMCA our most popular fee-based lesson programs are our preschool classes. They range from age 3 to 5, and we offer four different stages of skill levels for that age group. Stage One and Two are almost always completely full.

CR: How do you decide what trends to implement and what trends to not?

ED: We try to look at our program numbers every session — which is every seven weeks or so.

CR: What does the future hold when it comes to swimming activity trends?

ED: At Mary Free Bed we are excited about all of our upcoming programs. We have a drop-in log rolling class; the stand-up paddleboard “Splash Fitness” class is gaining popularity. Every branch in our association has something unique to offer.


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