Tribune Print Share Text

Everybody in the pool

Swim instructor eases neighbors into the water

Created date

July 23rd, 2013

Growing up on the high plains of West Texas, Delphine Sefcik says the average rainfall was 18 inches a year. We didn t see much water certainly no creeks or swimming pools, says Delphine. Buffalo wallows were the only thing that ever held any water, and they were muddy at best. Delphine s first opportunity to learn how to swim came when she was a student at the University of Texas in Austin. I took a swim class in college, but I didn t learn anything except the water was cold and I didn t like it, she says. After spending 37 years in Michigan, Delphine moved back to Texas to be closer to two of her sons who live in Plano. I looked at four retirement communities in the Dallas area, she says. Highland Springs appealed to me because of the excellent security and the many activities. And while the on-site indoor swimming pool didn t initially factor into Delphine s choice of Highland Springs, it s now one of her favorite features of the Erickson Living community.

Swimming comes full circle

Pat Kain and his wife Barbara moved to Highland Springs in 2008, around the same time as Delphine. Pat, an avid athlete, was a collegiate swimmer for the University of Texas before he transferred to Southern Methodist University and took up cross-country running. I paid my way through college teaching swim lessons to children, says Pat, a retired insurance salesman. Eventually, I got burned out on swimming and moved on to other sports. But swimming came back into the picture after he moved to Highland Springs. A few residents found out I used to offer swim lessons and asked if I would help them improve their strokes, says Pat. That was four years ago, and I ve been teaching at the pool ever since.

From sinker to swimmer

Pat estimates he has worked with more than 30 residents and staff members, ranging from non-swimmers to those who just needed a little encouragement. Delphine says she fell into the non-swimmer category. I was afraid I d get in the pool and sink, she says. Once I found out that Pat was offering swim lessons, it took me a year and a half to work up the courage to buy a bathing suit. Now, two years after her first foray into the water, Delphine swims 24 laps at a time, thanks to Pat s coaching and encouragement. I find that adults pick up swimming much faster than the children I used to teach, says Pat, who offers his services free of charge. I think it s because adults have a purpose they recognize the health benefits of swimming. Mary Norman, M.D., medical director at Highland Springs, says Pat s work in the pool is invaluable. Swimming promotes endurance, stretching, resistance, and balance, says Norman. It s the ideal exercise for seniors. Pat is an incredible leader at Highland Springs. His ability to teach residents who never learned to swim is amazing.

Year-round exercise

As a side benefit of helping others, Pat has rediscovered his own passion for the sport. After he gives lessons on Tuesday and Friday mornings, Pat logs 600 to 800 yards himself. I learned to swim in Akron, Ohio, says Pat. One of my dad s friends from the Naval Academy was Guy Winkjer, an Olympic swimmer. He used to take me to Silver Lake, and I d swim along behind him. When I got tired I would crawl on Guy s back, and he d swim the rest of the way. Now, Pat says he doesn t have to worry about the elements when he s swimming. The saltwater pool is kept at a comfortable 88 degrees year-round, so residents can swim regardless of the weather outside. I m in the pool if it s 100 degrees outside or if it s snowing, says Pat. It s a great benefit of living at Highland Springs.

Comments