Rock Lake woman taught three generations of children to swim – Times-West Virginian | WHs Answers

ROCK LAKE — When Susie Hinerman started teaching swimming lessons, gas costs were 34 cents a gallon.

She began taking swimming lessons in 1969 and has taught swimming lessons at Rock Lake every summer since 1971, except for the year the lake was drained to rebuild the dam. She ended up at Rock Lake through her job with the American Red Cross after her former swimming instructor and lake instructor passed away.

“I’m something of a staple out here. I expect to be out here and they expect me to be out here. They count on me and I’ve worked with pretty much the same people. … We’re having a lot of fun,” Hinerman said.

She said she teaches simply because she thinks it’s important for people to learn and because she enjoys it. She said that at 71, she will continue to teach as long as she is able.

Hinerman’s parents and students said only great things about her. For some she has taught three generations of families. For example, some students’ parents and grandparents also took lessons from her.

Former student Claudia Barto knew she wanted to get her kids involved because she loves Hinerman so much. Barto and her sister, Stacey Kisner, took lessons from the ages of five to 16 — even after they became strong swimmers — simply because they enjoyed hanging out with Hinerman so much.

After “graduating” from swimming lessons, they both became lifeguards at Wave Tek Pool and joined the East Fairmont High School swim team, where they placed at the annual state convention. Barto was also recruited to swim at Fairmont State University. She credits Hinerman with her strong swimming skills.

“It’s almost become a tradition out here. … Susie is just so amazing, she is so personable and she has so much to offer that even when the students are learning to swim, they want to keep taking lessons from her because she goes out of their way to challenge them and teach them more”, said Barto.

Barto’s children are five and almost eight. Five-year-old Chrissy started taking classes when she was three, which is younger than Hinerman usually teaches, but she already had a good foundation, Barto said. Her eight-year-old daughter has been taking lessons for four years.

Grandparents Merry Lee Powell, whose children took lessons from Hinerman and whose grandchildren are now taking lessons, agreed. Her grandchildren are Garret Powell, aged five, and Emelia Powell, aged three.

“Susie brings a personal touch. She makes both adults and children feel comfortable,” Powell said.

For the two weeks following July 4, Hinerman will be teaching swimming lessons Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Beginner courses start at 6 am and last half an hour. Intermediate starts at 6:30am and the difficulty level of the classes increases every half hour until their advanced course at 7:30am. Hinerman said she hates using terms like “beginner” and “intermediate,” however. The first class consists of students with fear of water or swimming immunity and from there the ability increases.

The last day of class is celebrated with a party and advanced students learn “Survival Floating”. Fully dressed in jeans, shoes and a t-shirt, they get into the water and learn how to make a swimming device out of their clothes.

Hinerman said that above all, water safety is one of the most important skills a person can learn by teaching them in the beginner class.

“I think everyone needs to learn to swim or be aware of what water can do. It can be devastating and a person can drown in three inches of water. If you can’t swim, even if you know what to do, it can save a life,” Hinerman said.

Rock Lake Club President Raymond Alvarez agreed.

“I think the value for little kids is teaching them not to be afraid of the water. … Water security is a priority for our community members and their families in Rock Lake,” Alvarez said.

Rock Lake members and non-members are welcome to take swimming lessons. Registrations are usually posted at the entrance to Rock Lake and in the community center. Classes begin on the first Monday after July 4th. The cost for non-members is $50 and $45 for Rock Lake members for the two weeks of classes.

There is no age limit, but students are typically 5 years or older when they start. Hinerman said she’s taught adults, but they usually prefer private classes, which she teaches at her pool.

“Many volunteer members of the Lake coordinated this event with Susie and we honor her for her years of service. We appreciate those who plan and enroll their children. We also appreciate how much Susie has done for generations of children,” Alvarez said.

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