Sandra Ifasso is making a splash as the first teacher in Irving ISD to participate in Swim Safe swimming lessons. Typically these lessons are only attended by young students. But this year, Ifasso is joining her third-grade class to become a strong swimmer.
Each day, Ifasso and her students travel to the Dallas College North Lake campus natatorium for an hour of swim instruction and practice. They begin with a poolside lesson on general pool safety and etiquette. Next, it’s time for everyone to jump in!
“I always tell my kids that teachers can learn, too! I wanted to show them that, and swimming is something I didn’t know how to do,” says Ifasso. “The challenge for me was getting in the water and feeling comfortable. But after a few days, I became more comfortable being in the water.”
Swim instructors like Terri Cravins, a retired de Zavala teacher, take close care in coaching their group of students to properly kick, float and practice various swim strokes. It’s no different with Ifasso. As a new swimmer, she started lessons in the “Penguin One” class where she learned the basics. Now when it’s her turn to swim from the platform to the wall, she confidently pushes off and makes her way across the pool.
“Ms. Ifasso did not know how to swim so she started as a Penguin One and learned how to hold her breath and kick, just as the students learned,” says Cravins. “She’s been very encouraging with her students, and it’s been a lot of fun.”
For Ifasso’s students, having their teacher learn to swim alongside them is quite the treat. Throughout the lesson, the students take turns encouraging Ifasso and practicing their swim skills with her.
“Having Ms. Ifasso in my class is really cool because she’s my teacher and now she’s my partner. We practice doing numbers and waving underwater,” says Aniya, one of Ifasso’s students.
During her time in Swim Safe, not only has Ifasso gained a valuable life skill but also an invaluable connection with each of her fellow swimmers and students. For Ifasso, this is what has made the experience so memorable.
“It’s all my students talk about, and it brings me so much joy to hear them saying ‘good job, Ms. Ifasso!’ when I do something well in class,” says Ifasso. “Usually I’m the one saying that to them, and to hear them say that is just precious.”