By Phyllis J. Lubin

One camper came up to me this morning and asked, “Can I take the blue test? I think I’m ready! I’ve been practicing!”

“Are you sure you are ready? Can you swim the front crawl with the breathing?”

“Yes–and back crawl, and I can tread, too!” This girl meant business.

As this paper goes on stands, it will be the last day of July. Where did the time go? The second half of the camp season began this past Monday, and all the kids are making so much progress in the pools.

This summer has been wonderful. I spend my summer mornings at Avnet Country Day running the instructional portion at the waterfront. I have a great staff, making each day a pleasure. Thanks go out to my team at Avnet who work so hard every day teaching and guarding at the pool: Kendel, Lara, Devorah, Chava, Chana, Sara, Debbie, Sheryl, Shani, Yaffa, Nechama, Daphna, Shoshana, and Rochel.

This week began the Nine Days leading up to Tishah B’Av. We have only instructional swim in the morning and laps to benefit Chai Lifeline in the afternoon. I have explained to the lifeguards that we need to be extra careful at the waterfront this week. But my staff is top-notch, so we are always extra careful when it comes to safety.

“Can you watch Elana swim across the pool? I’m not sure she is quite ready for the next bracelet,” one swim instructor requested.

We have three bracelets this year, each of which requires different skills in the water. I am always impressed how a camper can begin as a non-swimmer and in a few short weeks become practically a fish in the water.

According to the Talmud (Kiddushin 29a), a Jewish parent is required to teach his children three things: Torah, a way to make a living so that they can support themselves and their families, and how to swim. There seems to be consensus about the value of #1 and #2, but some people are curious why #3 is deemed a priority.

Besides from a safety aspect, I think teaching a child to swim is a metaphor for teaching a child to be an independent person. At first we hold their hands in the water, then we slowly guide them in life’s waters to swim on their own; they are thus able to spring forward on their own but won’t forget the person who taught them first how to float.

I am a firm believer in learning how to swim. But I explain to parents all the time that every child is on a different timetable. Some will be fish by age three and some might not swim independently until much older. It really doesn’t matter, as long as we keep trying to progress. That holds true for every type of learning in life, and as they say, “You learn something new every day!” Ï–

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children–Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea–and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at


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