Floating An Idea For Swim Lessons

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - August 18, 2005
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Gaylene Anderson is making a splash with her DVD aimed at teaching people of all ages to swim. Her first instructional DVD, Waterproof Kids, is serving as a test market in Hawaii Wal-Mart stores.

Anderson’s company, also named Waterproof Kids, hopes the Hawaii Wal-Mart test goes well. Then the video will be released to Wal-Mart stores nationwide.

“I want it to be a resource to encourage everyone, from babies to 100-year-olds,” says Anderson, who gives the instructions on the video. “I’d like to see more people safer, and in the sport in general.”

The idea for the swimming DVD came to her while she was working on her master’s in public health in Alabama, where lakes and ponds were a fivehour drive away. She explains that not everyone has access to a YMCA, or a Red Cross to teach them about water safety and swimming.

“Generations of families that don’t have access to water may not know how to swim themselves,” she adds. “And they might be deathly afraid to teach their kids. So to break the cycle, I came up with this series of videos that can help the parents and the children of each age group,” To support the n eed for her work, she cites three statistics. African American boys ages 5 to 9 make up 70 percent of drowning statistics. Drowning is the No. 1 reason children under age 5 die. And it’s the No. 2 reason for death of those under the age of 14.

Gaylene Anderson helps Aike Kozok get in
the swim

Since she’s been teaching swimming for 18 years, she came up with the idea to separate the swimming lessons into classes for babies, toddlers, ages 5-12, teens and adults.

She asked herself what would be the best way for her to reach all the rural families, she came up with the answer: Wal-Mart. Furthermore, she had the innovative idea to put the DVD in the swimming products aisle instead of with the DVDs. Anderson also uses lots of the fun swim toys that can be found in the swim section of the store.

“If I’m helping stores sell more products, that helps me,” explains the Nevada native, who earned a swimming scholarship in college. “It’s a symbiotic relationship.”

With Waterproof Kids’ partners Paul Sosso and Thomas Gorgas, Anderson won the iparenting media awards for Best Products 2005. Sosso and Gorgas shot the video entirely in Hawaii, featuring a diverse selection of children in any kind of water: tubs, pools and oceans.

Swimming is a family affair for Anderson, as her husband, Mike, is a swim coach, and they taught their two sons, Tanner, 10, and Bowen, 8, to swim.

The first two videos have been completed. The first video can be purchased individually on Walmart.com or it can be purchased in a how-to-swim combination package that includes a mesh bag with a life jacket and goggles. The package was put together by a company called Finis, which will donate part of the proceeds to drowning prevention programs. Anderson’s Baby Steps video will be released on her website in November, and it will be available at Wal-Mart stores in spring 2006.

Getting this far with her project hasn’t been easy for Anderson.

“If no one’s heard of it, you’re not following a template, you’re paving the way,” admits Anderson.

But the hardships haven’t stopped her. She advises, “If you have a passion for it, you’ll stick to it no matter how many rejections you get.”

Anderson has been featured locally and nationally in many news outlets, through which she envisions getting the message out about her product.

“I’d like to be the Martha Stewart of the swimming aisle,” she says.

For more information, call 221-5483, or log onto www.waterproofkids.com and www.safersummer.org

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