We had the good fortune of connecting with Kim Shults and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kim, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-14. These are startling statistics from the CDC. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of the dangers of drowning and the importance of swimming and water safety education from an early age. You can start in the bathtub. I start teaching babies in the water at 2 months old. Learning a healthy respect for water starts at birth and the physical and mental health benefits of learning how to swim at a young age last a lifetime.
What should our readers know about your business?
My love of swimming has taken me far in life. I am continuously amazed that my passion can be my career. The longer I teach, the easier it becomes and the more I search out new ways to challenge myself. I started teaching children how to swim when I was a teenager. I got bored easily, so I loved that every client was unique. As I continued my education through courses and experience and developed new teaching techniques, I found myself honing in on compassion and empathy. I had no idea that being a sensitive, intuitive person would be so helpful in what I do. I realized that not everyone is excited to learn how to swim and many people experience anxiety in and around water. This requires extreme patience from an instructor, so I took this as a challenge and sought out diverse individuals: infants, individuals with autism, adults with fear. Now, thirty years into my career, I specialize in fear and anxiety in the water. For me, the most important thing is to keep moving forward, to keep creating and educating. While I’ve always been a “swim instructor,” my career continues to evolve. I now run a non-profit, Face in Water, that provides swimming and water safety education worldwide. Our biggest impact comes from our Swim Missions. They take a lot of preparation, but we can show up in a community and get an incredible amount of essential swimming and water safety education delivered. We customize the education based on the audiences. For example, in Uganda. we spent a week teaching 300 children how to swim and teaching 120 adults not only how to swim, but how to teach swimming. They were so excited to acquire the skills and pass on their knowledge to others in their communities. It’s amazing how easy it is to teach those that are eager to learn. In Honduras, we visited a small, coastal village where we taught swimming and water safety in the ocean to kids in the local orphanage. We ran educational presentations for the local elementary school, met with missionary families to discuss water safety, spoke to youth groups, and even took a local bus to a high school to provide lifesaving information about river crossings and ocean currents. My goal is to bring swimming and water safety education into homes and communities worldwide. Since I can’t be everywhere in person, I decided to create education for parents, grandparents, caregivers and teachers. I have a children’s book, a DIY ebook, online step-by-step guides and waterproof skill cards. I love being able to empower people with the tools to teach swimming. I want the world to know that learning how to swim is a lifelong, lifesaving skill that everyone should learn. It is never too early or too late to create a positive relationship with water. Learning to swim should be a skill available to everyone because drowning does not discriminate.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When I have visitors, I try to give them maximum beach time. Outdoor dining is essential: cocktails on the beach for sunset, brunch on the bay. There is always Mexican food as well- whether it’s a California burrito from Lolita’s or a meal in Old Town. If a swimmer friend is visiting, we usually go swimming and/or surfing in La Jolla. A weeklong visit would include visiting Coronado, walking around Balboa Park, and maybe a hike at Torrey Pines.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be where I am in my career if it wasn’t for my incredible clients. It seems that every time I think I’ve seen it all, an individual appears with a new story. So, my shoutout goes to those that gave me a chance to help them. I’m grateful for all of the parents that choose swimming lessons for their child with autism, even though the whole process can be exhausting. I’m thankful for all of the adults that carry their fear around their entire lives, but allow me to bear witness to their story and trust me to guide them through their panic into a new world of aquatic adventures. I’m enthusiastic about the parents, grandparents, caregivers and teachers that make learning to swim a priority and use my DIY materials to help their children create a healthy relationship with water through a holistic approach to learning how to swim. All of these individuals are the reasons I do what I do.