Find your Fins, a local nonprofit organization, works to instill the love and health benefits of swimming to various challenged populations throughout the local community.
Founded and operated by Laura Moore, FYF was incorporated last September and began operations in March.
“It took time to get insurance and to find participants,” said Moore. “It was really exciting to find the first one.”
Operating primarily out of the Oro Valley Aquatics Center and the Northwest YMCA, the organization helps individuals who are struggling or recovering from addiction, those with special needs or disabilities, veterans and even people lacking the financial means to get to a pool. Services are generally offered for ages 13 and up. Anyone with a disability or special need is permitted at 2 years old.
Participants in the program are often turned on to Moore’s work through word of mouth, though she has been to some veterans fairs in order to reach out.
Recreational swimming is a great all-around exercise. The heart rate remains elevated without the high impact of a traditional gym workout, swimming laps at any pace helps build muscle endurance and cardiovascular strength and provides an all-over body workout. Every muscle in your body is active to help keep you afloat and moving in the water. Even when injured, swimming is a fantastic way to stay in shape.
To Moore, the water is more than a means to stay healthy. It’s a way of life.
“I think the water is a whole new world that a lot of people aren’t exposed to,” she said. “So for one, it’s opening a whole new world. I realized there are two things the water gives us — support and freedom. There’s no other place on Earth like that.”
After growing up swimming, Moore said some of her strongest relationships throughout her life have been formed around the water. She hopes to spread her love and expertise on to those who need it most.
Sarah Campen and her husband, Chris, brought their 5-year old son Andrew to the Oro Valley Aquatics Center to get ready for instruction. They have been bringing their son to Moore since the beginning of the summer.
“My husband was actually taking swim lessons to get into triathlons, and he was matched up with Laura at the Y and they started talking about the program,” said Campen. “We’ve had some not-so-good swim lessons with Andrew in the past. Chris came home and said, ‘she’s wonderful and I think she would do really well with Andrew.’”
Andrew, with toy sharks in tow, arrived excited and ready to get in the pool. He quickly donned his goggles and hopped ankle-deep onto the steps leading into the shallow end. He is taught under the same structure as anybody else learning how to swim: proper body position in the water, front-float, back-float and making sure he’s comfortable in the water with his head under the surface.
“[Andrew] has Asperger Syndrome, so it takes a lot of patience to work with him,” said Campen. “Laura is just so patient and so sweet with him. His passion is sharks, and she has found a way to incorporate that into the lesson. That really keeps him engaged in the lesson, and he has a blast with her. From the beginning of this summer, he wasn’t swimming at all, and now he is all over our pool. He is confident in the water. We’re so blessed to have found her.”
FYF will help to arrange or provide transportation, swim gear and goggles on an as-needed basis. Each participant will receive completely free, individualized instruction based on their needs and goals.
All levels of skills are welcome to participate, from the greatest swimmer to those who are fearful of the water.
The nonprofit is looking to do more than individual lessons. On Saturday, Sept. 26, beginning at 10 a.m., FYF will be hosting an all aquatic triathlon. Participants will choose three different ways to move across the four-foot deep pool. Use of the bottom is allowed, as are kick-boards, noodles and anything else not inflatable.
Each section will be allotted five minutes, and the results are based on yardage covered. All ages and abilities are welcome, and the event can be done in a relay. Free lunch will be provided and medals are given to participants.
Contact Moore at either 409-5436 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the event or find more information regarding regular swimming services.
Registration is encouraged by Sept. 15. FYF is also seeking volunteers and sponsors for the event.