Edith Flood almost drowned—twice.
Those two incidents motivated Flood, the owner of Wings Over Water, to one day open up a swimming facility and teach thousands of youngsters and adults alike how to swim in water safely.
Now in its 25th year, Wings Over Water continues its mission to instruct residents on how to swim and survive in any body of water. Classes offered range from babies only 2-months-old to adult classes and everyone in between. The location along Route 22 also offers exercise classes, physical therapy, and specialized classes that include 19 levels of difficulty.
The program used is called “swimplicity,” created by Flood and is ever-evolving. Flood stressed she is adamantly opposed to using any type of flotation devices because they give anyone that wears it a false sense of security. It also sends a message that it’s OK to swim without a parent or adult in the water with them, Flood said.
“The main focus is safety,” Flood said. “It’s all a very gentle approach to swimming, it’s not forceful and self-initiative.”
Flood said in light of the drowning in Lake Tonetta on Labor Day, Wings Over Water is working with community stakeholders to offer free community programs in the near future. The leading cause of death for a child younger than four is drowning and the second leading cause of death for a child younger than 16 is drowning, she noted.
“We’re surrounded by water, our area,” Flood said. “So we’ve always been there for the community. We’ve taught well over 20,000 kids and adults to swim in the 25 years.”
When Flood was four, she almost drowned when she went into a stream, disobeying her father. Then again when she was 13, she took a five-year-old out on a pool on her back and the younger child used her shoulders and head to stand on.
“I didn’t know what to do so the lifeguards thought I was fooling around,” Flood said. “I wasn’t, I was drowning.”
Soon after that incident, she trained to become a lifeguard. Presently, Flood, who is almost 70, still swims and still takes her 93-year-old mother swimming, too.
“Swimming–it’s good for the soul and good for the mind,” Flood said. “The water is a healer, the water can be a killer and the water can be a healer.”
Flood, a Wingdale resident, said it’s important for the body to experience water in many different ways whether it’s three feet under or just one foot under. A relationship with the water is like none other.
Wings Over Water, which is a Brewster Chamber of Commerce member, is going to make a video about water safety, CPR and how to handle other emergency incidents. Flood advises to never swim alone, to never swim in the dark, and never swim in the ocean without a lifeguard. Parents should never leave a child unsupervised in a family pool, Flood stressed.
“The public needs to be educated,” she said. “We’re here to make a difference and to do something about it.”
Wings Over Water is located at 1511 Route 22 Lakeview Plaza in Brewster and its phone number is 845-279-9525.