Aquatics Programs at the YMCA:

An Interview with the Aquatics Director

Samm MeddaughMiriam Meglan:  We’re here today with Samm Meddaugh, Director of Aquatics, to learn about the Aquatics Program at the Y.  Good afternoon, Samm.  Thank you for joining us!

Samm Meddaugh: My pleasure.

MM: We’re all curious.  How long have you been here at the Frederick County Y?

SM: I’ve been at this Y for a little over five years, and previously, I’d been with a Y in New Jersey where I was a direct service staff member.  I was a lifeguard, lifeguard instructor, swim instructor. This is my first Aquatics Director position at a YMCA, prior to working at the Frederick Y I spent several years as an Aquatics Director at a private camp in New Jersey.

MM: What was your very first experience in a YMCA?

SM: I was six months old.  My parents enrolled me in parent-child swim lessons, and I loved it.   They couldn’t keep me warm in the pool, but despite shivering and shaking the whole time, I didn’t want to leave!  I went on to take lessons and swim competitively, all the way through college.

MM:  How about an overview of the program here and the importance of it?

SM: Swimming is such an important life skill.  Most of us will encounter a body of water at some point in our lives; so, it’s one of the few sports that can save your life!   Swimming and other forms of water exercise are great for physical fitness and mental health throughout your entire life, too.  We offer a variety of programs for infants all the way through older adults:  swim lessons (class and private), swim team, life instructor training, swim instructor training, water exercise, and a variety of water programs that are not instructor based, like lap swim and senior volleyball.

MM: How are our lessons and Swim Team programs structured?

SM:  We offer swim lessons for infants/toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged kids, teens, and adults.  Infant/toddlers’ groups are based solely on age.  In those classes, we teach parents how to interact in the water with their children and help their children become comfortable in the water.

Starting with pre-school aged children, we break things down by ability with swim basics and strokes. Our Swim Basics students are learning how to be safe in the water with skills including floating, treading water, and how to roll over and breathe.  Once they’ve mastered these things, we teach strokes and then technique and diving.  After that, if they’re enthusiastic about swimming, we recommend them for our swim team.

The Swim Team is also grouped by age and ability.  Currently, we have seven different groupings, from kids who are comfortable swimming on their front and back and don’t have a lot of experience all the way up through swimmers who are nationally ranked and those who will probably swim competitively on college teams in the future.   Right now, we have about 16 kids in that upper group, and in all, we have just under 100 kids involved in our swim team program.  Prior to the Pandemic our swim team served approximately 150 kids.

MM:   When do you register for these activities and how much do they cost?

SM:  We run our swim lessons on a 7-week schedule, with registration occurring every two months.  Our Swim Team runs in two seasons, September through March and April through July.  All but our top-ranked swimmers take a month break during August.  Pricing varies. Our water exercise classes run on a 7-week schedule, with registration taking place every two months.  Members pay $15 and can attend all classes they wish during the 7-week period.  Non-members pay a drop-in fee per class.

MM:     How will the rollout of the South County Y’s Aquatics Program proceed?      

SM:    South Country will allow us to offer more of what we do Downtown, but also, offer more of a lot of the things requested in the past.  For instance, a much larger pool than the one downtown will allow us to offer lap and open swim for most of the day.  We will be able to close off a part of the pool for those activities while offering other classes and activities concurrently.  Our Swim Team will be unified with practices held Downtown or at South Country, depending upon availability.  During their competitive season, our public schools will have use of the facility on select days and times.  Aquatics Program materials will be out this spring, with programming starting at the end of April.

MM:  What volunteer help do you need in the Aquatics Program? 

SM:  We really need volunteers to assist our instructors during swim lessons.  It is enormously helpful to have an extra set of eyes and hands to help give extra hands-on attention in class. In addition to people volunteering their time in person, we are in need of donations to the Y’s Annual Campaign to provide this life-saving skill to all participants regardless of financial means. Swimming is an essential life skill that we believe no one should miss out on due to their ability to pay. Donations to the Annual Campaign directly benefit children and families in our community by providing financial aid (scholarships) for Y memberships and swim lessons fees.

MM: What haven’t I asked that you want us all to know?

SM: We take COVID protocols very seriously and have made major adjustments to how we operate the facility and deliver Aquatics programming.  We are doing more frequent cleaning, especially of frequently touched surfaces than ever before, and we require appointments for ALL our classes and programs.  This helps us make sure we adhere to COVID capacity restrictions and allows us to plan for all persons in the facility to maintain appropriate social distancing.   Of course, our pool water is and always has been treated to maintain a healthy environment.

MM: Thank you for your time, Samm with two mm’s!

SM:  You’re welcome!  (My parents spelled my name that way to make it look more feminine!)

Miriam Meglan is a YMCA member and serves on the YMCA Endowment Committee and the YMCA Clays Tournament.

Should you or a loved one be interested in learning more about planned giving options at the YMCA of Frederick County, please contact YMCA Vice president of Social Responsibility Tom Clingman at 301-663-5132 or .