Washington Post article on The Dry Land Swim Class, the approach detailed in
Dr. Joe Lee Griffin’s book, “
Learn to Swim Before You Get In .”

The Power of the Press

One August some years ago, I had sixteen people in a dry land class. Jim Yenckel visited and wrote about it in the Washington Post. From that, in September, what I thought would be a small, relaxed class to get ready for next year attracted 69 students. There are people who need the process, who will come out even off season.

Yenckel's article for the Style Plus page, Style section, entitled:
"Coping: Swimmer's Block,"said in part:

It is, unquestionably, a most unusual swimming class.
No backstroke or crawl, breast-stroke or frog kick.
No splashing kids.
No water.
But these are the attractions......

"Adults who don't swim," says biologist Joe L. Griffin, "have special problems." Standard swimming classes, he says, "are designed for children--even adult classes. But adults don't learn the way kids do."

Children, he suggests, learn through play, and"it is my observation adults do not play as long or as well as children." When it comes to trying to learn something that would have been easier in childhood, "they have trouble."

What happens, he says, is that "they wad up" by "trying too hard," constantly criticizing their performance and struggling for perfection--"trying for right. If you really get out there and try hard, you can screw yourself up."

"You need to swim like you walk, so you can do it without thinking. We put together the bits and pieces and do what's easy."

A great big pot-bellied man--looking more like a lumpy walrus than the sleek dolphin you might imagine a swimming instructor to be--Griffin quickly deflates doubts about learning to swim on the floor of a classroom at the Silver Spring United Presbyterian Church. He is dressed for this session not in bathing suit, but in crumpled T-shirt, baggy Bermuda shorts, and bare feet.

"If you're sort of skeptical but willing to do it, that's the way I want you to be. I'm very good at this. I really am. People around me believe they can learn to swim."

James T. Yenckel went on to write the Fearless Traveler column in the Sunday Post. From my conversations with him, that is an amazingly appropriate job for him. This is a guy who saved up, took off, and traveled around the world with a backpack.

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