When passion becomes a career, you don’t just excel; you become unstoppable! This statement perfectly represents the life of Danielle Bakic, who has loved water more than anything. This 33-year-old swim instructor is the owner of Swimming Fishies, an institution that helps save hundreds of lives per year.
“I have been in the water my entire life. I took lessons at a very early age and have been swimming ever since,” she said.
Bakic learned to swim when she was just three. When she started participating in competitive swimming, she eventually coached her friends in high school to help them get better. That’s how her journey as an instructor commenced. This ambitious girl competed in swimming for 13 long years. After her graduation, Danielle became a professional coach.
“I have been a swim coach for the last 15 years. I had no idea I would make a career out of it, but I am so thankful that I love my job so much and I can transform lives,” she shared. “Swimming is everything to me.”
Bakic spends eight hours in the water per day, at times 10 hours a day. With an assistant, she coaches two kids every 30 minutes. They have their own student, and then they switch halfway through lessons so that the lead coach looks after every child. Bakic has 13 girls working for her, and they have 4 locations for teaching this year. All their classes are private lessons, so there are always two coaches in the pool at a time.
“We have a 99% success rate in kids that are ages 3 [and up] who will swim across the pool,” she mentioned.
Danielle is famous for her friendly teaching techniques. All her assistant girls are CPR certified who took proper training before they worked.
Unfortunately, there are 360,000 annual deaths in the U.S. from swimming pools. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children. According to the CDC, more children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except congenital disabilities. Considering these heartbreaking statistics, Danielle feels that the role of swim instructors becomes more than just teaching kids how to swim. To help kids learn to swim more effectively and to create a more significant impact in the community, she published a book named My Swim Adventure in March this year.
“I wanted a tool that kids can have at their home that sounds like swim lessons,” she said. “It is a fun adventure story with a parental teaching guide in the back. It helps the kids and the parents so much.”
The book has become popular among kids in the community as it serves the basics of swimming in a fun yet creative way.
This swim coach says everyone should learn to swim. When she saved her mom’s life in the ocean when she was 17 years old, she realized how important it is for every person to learn to swim.
“You never know whose life you could save or even yourself! You never know what your situation is to be a strong swimmer,” she remarked.
The impact she’s been able to create on the community is what keeps Danielle motivated. According to her, the best part of the job is teaching her students to believe in themselves. It takes a lot to make someone conquer their fear of water, and Danielle does this every day.
“The key words we say over and over is – I can do it, I am brave and strong, swimming is easy and fun. When we s peak these positive affirmations over our kids, this is what changes them from fear into fun of the water,” she added. “More than this, many small students also express their interest in becoming a coach, just like their teacher when they grow up. Few of them are already into competitive swimming. It makes my heart so proud.”
There are some misconceptions about swimming that Danielle has observed in her career. “
Sadly, what I have observed is most people learn to swim incorrectly. Such as 95% of adults do not know that you should never hold your breath underwater because it causes panic, fear, and exhaustion. We should all blow bubbles out of the nose,” she explained.
Every day is not the same! Working a lot in the sun and water can be exhausting at times. And, dealing with a lot of students at once teaching them baby steps seems challenging.
“Being a swim coach has taught me to have lots of patience for my students, and especially as a mom,” she said.
However, spending time with her two boys (ages 12 and 7) is therapy. They often surf on their boat.
Swimming Fishies has some great news coming up. They are building a swim school and plan to open it by this fall. Last but not least, swim instructor and author Danielle is the biggest supporter to those who want to build their career in swimming – be it a professional swimmer or a coach. One piece of advice from her – “You can do anything you set your mind to. Keep working hard, and you can do it.”
photos courtesy of Danielle Bakic’s Social Media