To the editor of THE EAGLE:

It is time for the Southern Berkshire Community to app-
laud Bill Meier, aquatic director at the Kirkpatrick Athletic Center of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and the program SwimAmerica.

As a new resident of Great Barrington in early 2013, Bill invited me to join the Masters Swim Program. I may have been the slowest member of the group but with Bill’s encouragement, extraordinary smile and whimsical suggestions, I tried and mastered new strokes, gained confidence and made new friends. To prepare for teaching children and adult non-swimmers in this terrific program, I studied Bill’s carefully crafted "Adult Swim Lesson Manual" as if I was taking a mid-term examination.

SwimAmerica is a National program that structures teaching in stages which builds confidence at each stage. When the Swim America participants recently gathered at the pool for their classes, I was ready for my assignment. I helped a young woman who had never learned how to swim. At the end of our sessions, she held her breath for 10 seconds while she flutter-kicked her way to the side of the pool. She smiled broadly at her accomplishment, and I smiled back.

As I looked around the pool, in my neighboring lane was a situation similar to mine. A sturdy young man was being taught the fundamentals of swimming by a fantastic master swimmer. This individual had been one of the first members of the group to introduce himself to me when I joined the team. I had commented that the class was difficult for me as I am 71-years-old. He alleviated my concerns by telling me proudly that he was 80.

Bill Meier and his team give so much to our community, to the master swimmers and those who are just learning. I believe as a result, lives will be saved, in and out of the water!

GAIL GROLLMAN

Great Barrington