Overcoming the fear of water in Sarasota County
Miracle Swimming - Overcoming the fear of water
Miracle Swimming - Practice Pool
Miracle Swimming - Practice Pool
Miracle Swimming - Overcoming the fear of water in Sarasota County
Miracle Swimming - Overcoming the fear of water
Miracle Swimming - Overcoming the fear of water in Sarasota County
Miracle Swimming - Overcoming the fear of water
Miracle Swimming - Overcoming the fear of water in Sarasota County
Miracle Swimming - Overcoming the fear of water

Overcoming the fear of water in Sarasota County

Visitors from around the world come to the sunny shores to not just enjoy the beach, but overcome their fear of water with Miracle Swimming for Adults.

“The only way this doesn’t work out is if I die,” was Melon Dash’s reply to her mother’s question about getting a second job. In 1983 Dash left corporate America and established Miracle Swimming for Adults, a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is “to teach adults to overcome their fear in water.”

Dash, along with 65 licensed instructors, has taught nearly six thousand adults how to swim. “I have never had a student I could not help,” says Dash. Her eldest student started swimming at 89, but most of her students are women and men ages 45 – 60. Classes in the United States are designed to teach adults to have complete freedom using a five-circle teaching method.

Five-circle Teaching Method at Miracle Swimming

“The key to learning how to swim is mindfulness and being present. As long as someone resists to feel, they cannot start from where they are,” says Dash. According to Dash, the fear of swimming is often generational. This was the case for Trinidadian born Christine Dempster, age 57, whose mother and grandmother’s fear of the water prevented her from learning how to swim at an early age.

Two years ago, Dempster was traveling by boat to Tobago after a hike with seven friends when someone suggested for everyone to swim in ocean to cool off. Everyone did so except for Dempster. “I was miserable because I could not get into the ocean,” she says.

Dempster returned to Atlanta, Georgia with a strong determination to conquer her fear of the water and learn how to swim. She learned about Miracle Swimming for Adults while performing a Google search and decided to travel to Sarasota for a five-day beginner’s course. “The whole approach is holistic,” says Dempster.

The following year she returned to Sarasota for an additional course and by the end was comfortable floating in eight feet of water. “Melon has redefined swimming. Swimming has nothing to do with strokes, but rather it’s more about being comfortable in deep water,” says Dempster.

Miracle Swimming for Adults’ class levels range from ultra beginning to triathletes. A three-hour beginner’s class, including one hour on land and two hours in warm water, may include up to eight students that are supported by an instructor and two spotters. The instructor and spotters help each student feel at ease in the water during day one by asking everyone to walk in the pool.

In November 2017, Dash decided she wanted to be less hands-on with the business operations and start transitioning into the “fun stuff”. The fun stuff is public outreach to teach the global community how to prevent drowning among adults. She says the ratio between adults and children drowning incidents is 8:2.

According to a Global Report on Drowning issued by the World Health Organization, 372,000 adults die each year from drowning, with more than half of the drowning s occurring among those under the age of 25. “The drowning death toll is almost two thirds that of malnutrition and well over half that of malaria.”

This year Dash submitted a proposal to the ambassadors of the United Nations’ member countries in response to its overwhelming concern about an increasing number of adult drowning incidents. She is proposing to teach instructors how to properly teach adults how to swim by healing, instead of managing, fear. “The common belief of swimming is how to do, but really people need to focus on how to be,” says Dash.

One of her local goals is to teach 125,000 adults in Sarasota how to swim with a special interest in adults residing in Newtown, Sarasota’s predominantly African-American community. “I want to set-up a river of people from Newtown to here [referring to the current location of Miracle Swimming for Adults’ pool] and every month have a new group of people learn how to swim,” says Dash. She works tirelessly to try to alleviate the fear of swimming within African-American communities by dismissing myths about body density and sharing students’ suggestion about healthy haircare. Miracle Swimming for Adults raised $90,000 and purchased its own pool located at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee on McIntosh Road.

Melon Dash is also the author of Conquer Your Fear of Water: An Innovative Self-Discovery Course in Swimming and speaks about maintaining control in the water in video The Miracle Swimmer: Learn to be in Control in Water Shallow and Deep: Prevent Panic.

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