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Interview: Berna Bennett, Author of 'A Gentle Approach to Teaching Children to Swim'
Published: Wed, 8 Dec 2004, 07:17 EDT

By Beverly West
Staff Writer, Publishers Newswire
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A chat with Berna Bennet, who has taught over two thousand children to swim. Her book on teaching children to swim went out of print in 1997, but a new e-book version makes the valuable information available once more.

Berna Bennett

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what you wanted to offer readers with this book?

Bennett: I wanted to educate people on how to teach young children to swim in a loving and patient environment

Q: What would you say is the underlying message of your book?

Bennett: To communicate the ways that readers can develop a positive learning environment using gentle persuasion in an approach to teaching children to swim, by letting the children learn to adjust to the experience at their own pace, without being rushed or forced.

Q: What motivated you to write this book?

Bennett: During my 25 years of teaching swimming, I constantly encountered children who had been traumatized with fear by forceful instructors. Because of my love of children I was compelled to write this book. My book shows readers how to motivate children through unpressured playful fantasy. Swimming techniques become games children want to play.

Q: Why did you feel that you were the right person to write on this subject?

Bennett: I had a private swim school for twenty years and taught over two thousand children to swim. I had a waiting list every year. I was on a swim team with my older sisters when I was about six. In my teens I swam for the Los Angeles Athletic Club for five years. I had the honor of competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials. So I'm an experienced swimmer. And my experience as a mother of six children helped me a great deal.

I recall the early years when my children were toddlers, and my efforts to teach them to swim in public pools. This was a very valuable experience in my life. I learned to teach swimming to the very young, first hand.

Q: Why do you feel this is an important book for parents?

Bennett: Learning to swim should be a part of every child's upbringing. I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to share the fun and health benefits of swimming. It's also very important from a safety standpoint, for children to be able to swim when necessary.

Q: Have you received any feedback or reviews on your book?

I have received a lot of positive feedback from my students and their parents. Many of the testimonials that I have received over the years are on my web site at

Q: What sort of research did you conduct?

Bennett: I learned through trial and error, trying out new ideas and learning from my students. I let nothing go to waste. If something didn't work with a child, I spent sleepless nights trying to think of another way to approach that individual child.

Q: What are you ultimate hopes for this book?

Bennett: To give parents and instructors techniques for creating a positive attitude in children that leads them to learn swimming better. By respecting their inclinations, and letting them set their own pace, they will have fun and experience learning to swim as an adventure.

Q: Do you have any advice for other authors?

Bennett: Follow your dreams! Have someone in your life that believes in you and encourages you. And don't give up. Fortunately for me I have two sons who encouraged me and wouldn't let me give up my dream.

* * *

Berna Bennett, has been teaching swimming for over 25 years and has taught over 2,000 children. Her school, Berna Bennett's Swim School, is in Mountain View, California.

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Thu, 22 Jan 2009 01:43 PM EDT