YMCA of Greenville Offers an Adaptive Swim Program

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Do you know a child with special needs who has difficulty with the water? YMCA of Greenville is here to help with an adaptive swim program called Swim Angelfish. We’re telling you about this unique program and sharing all the details you need to get started.

Thank you to the YMCA of Greenville for sponsoring this article.

For many children, getting into a pool, or any body of water for the first time, can be a frightening experience. But for children with diverse abilities it can be especially intimidating to learn how to swim and gain confidence in the water.

An adaptive swim program at the YMCA of Greenville is hoping to make the experience easier. Swim Angelfish is a certified swim lesson program designed and catered for children with diverse abilities of all severities. This program is open year-round to participants with, but not limited to, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, MS, ADHD, Down Syndrome and other special needs.

YMCA of Greenville Program Center Aquatics Director, Sean Van Velsor, works with one of his Angelfish clients during a lesson.

At YMCA of Greenville, Angelfish certified instructors work one-on-one with clients during 30-45-minute classes. Instructors have received training from the national Angelfish program on how to adapt tools to overcome challenges for each individual.  

Sean Van Velsor, Aquatics Director at Prisma Health Family YMCA and the YMCA Program Center, says that the water gives instructors an opportunity to be flexible in their approach with each child. The benefits of being in the water, which are especially helpful to client with diverse abilities, include having a full range of motion, experiencing an endorphin release and having a sense of weightlessness. All which help with coordination, sensory challenges and anxiety.

Sean has seen progress in all of the children in the Angelfish program. He gives as examples, a client who will soon be trying out for the Special Olympics and another client who is non-verbal and swims 500-600 yards during each class, as long as his instructor is with him.

Laura Espinosa, who has a daughter on the Autism Spectrum, says that the instructors have connected with her daughter in a way, she never thought possible. Before starting Angelfish lessons, Laura’s daughter would not allow her face to get wet. Now, she not only gets her face wet, but has progressed to submerging herself underwater and is learning the skills to swim.

YMCA of Greenville is developing the program to be offered at all of the branches with swimming pools – Caine Halter Family YMCA, Eastside Family YMCA and the YMCA Program Center. If you are interested in Swim Angelfish, contact your local branch to set up an introductory session.


  • All Ages by Appointment
  • Four Lessons:  YMCA of Greenville Members $100, Community $149
  • Eight Lessons: YMCA of Greenville Members $185, Community $275
  • Financial Assistance is available.
  • Program is open year-round.

About the Author
Deborah Pope is a music teacher who loves to have adventures with her husband and three boys. They love hiking, biking, going to playgrounds, and walking in gardens. They make fun wherever they go!

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