UA-8412995-1 The Southport Globe: Special Olympian encourages children, inspires love of swimming

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Special Olympian encourages children, inspires love of swimming

It's not easy keeping an eye on the Fairfield YMCA swimming pool, especially on days when open swim and beginner lessons overlap.
Youngsters splash and yell — some try sneaking under the shallow-end rope into deep water, while others run on the wet deck — and instructors chase after floating toys and tubes as their teary-eyed students (many first-time swimmers) sit teetering along the pool edge, crying and grasping for parents on the bench.
But lifeguard Lisa Ellis is up for the task, and has set a high standard of professionalism and vigilance, according to Aquatics Director Maureen Scinto. She can be counted on to diligently scan the pool with a whistle around her neck, rescue tube under her arm and first-aid kit buckled around her waist.
Ellis, a Special Olympian who has Down syndrome, was approached by Scinto 12 years ago, while teaching her 6- and 8-year-old nieces during an open swim period, and asked whether she was interested in teaching for the Y. Scinto said she was impressed by Ellis's special way with children and ability to demonstrate swimming techniques.
With the help of her father, David, YMCA lifeguard and swim instructor Erin Russell, and two extensive prep books, Ellis passed the necessary tests on lifeguarding, first-aid, CPR, and automated external defibrillator use. READ MORE:

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