Sometimes the most challenging journeys begin with the first step. Or the first stroke, as in Darlene Leonard’s case. While she can now freestyle and kick it up like the best of them, she wasn’t always as comfortable in the pool. The 79-year-old never learned to swim, and it wasn’t until recently that she was inspired by her grandchildren to get in the pool and take action. Darlene wanted to be able to enjoy quality time with them, but she didn’t know where to turn to get started. Darlene’s husband, Chuck, wanted to help his wife find programs that would suit her needs, and when he came across the adult swimming lessons at the Y, he knew he had found the perfect fit.

Chuck was determined to assist Darlene in reaching her goal, so they met with Connie McNamara, the Aquatics Director at the Scottsdale/PV Family Y to discuss their options. With a little motivation from Connie and her loving husband, Darlene happily began taking private swim lessons. After just a few short months, her dedication has paid off, and she has discovered her confidence in the water, while making her grandchildren (and Chuck) very proud. Now, the next time, the family has a swimming party Darlene will surely be the first in the water.

It’s never too early or late to develop your love of the water! The Valley of the Sun YMCA has several aquatics programs to choose and we are now offering beginner-level lessons to members for free. Just like Darlene, the Y can help you gain swimming success! For more information, visit