I have been swimming since I could walk. I grew up around a lake with all my cousins. When I was younger, I couldn’t have cared less what temperature the water was. My cousins and I were in the lake from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and sometimes even later into the year. I swam and dove competitively for Ralston High School, and it was there that I started my career as a swim teacher.
I teach because I love kids. I firmly believe that every child should know how to swim, as it is a life skill that saves lives. My journey at Swimtastic started in 2006, two days after I graduated from high school over 12 years ago! I’ve watched my kids grow into competitive swimmers (YAY!), soccer players, horseback riders, softball and baseball players, and everything else in between. I love to start with toddlers and watch them grow and blossom into bright young men and women; I can say this now as I’ve had the pleasure of working with 3 kids that I taught during my first year at Swimtastic. I fell in love with these kids and their families, and nothing makes me prouder than seeing them accomplish great things, both in and out of the pool.
I teach because, when I injured my back, my doctor told me that it would be beneficial to get into the pool for aquatic therapy. I am so thankful he sent me to a wonderful physical therapist at Brookstone Meadows. I spent 9 months in physical therapy and was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to teach again. As my back healed and I transitioned to therapy in the gym, I continued doing my exercises at Swimtastic. One of the happiest moments was the first class I was able to teach after the injury. While it can be physically taxing on my body, staying strong and being in our 90-degree water is still therapeutic.
I teach because I fell in love with teaching. I learned that I have a talent for teaching in a non-traditional setting. A few years into working at Swimtastic, I had a coworker that told me I would make an excellent occupational therapist. I had no idea what an occupational therapist does. I spent some time exploring this field and felt that she helped me find my true calling. Occupational therapy is a dynamic field that, very simply put, involves teaching others in a non-traditional setting, among many other things. I fell in love and signed up for grad school to pursue my Masters in Occupational Therapy. I graduated in May 2018, after a very bumpy and challenging road. Teaching swim lessons really prepared me for the career I am about to start. I learned how to establish rapport, which can be especially tricky with crying two-year-olds, how to set goals for my kids, that you have to do your best to expect the unexpected, and I learned that time goes fast when you love what you do.
As I prepare for my career as an occupational therapist, I continue to draw from the lessons that I’ve learned as a swim teacher and I look forward to the future. Don’t worry, I still plan to continue teaching lessons, as long as I am able. My kids have a huge part of my heart, and I continue to watch them grow before my eyes. I will forever be thankful for all the opportunities working at Swimtastic has provided me.
Keri Koraleski teaches at Swimtastic Omaha (Northwest). Stop in and say hello if you are in the area!