ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Miguel Fuller and Holly O'Connor from Hot 101.5 are always ready to dive into celebrity scoop but, until recently, Fuller was hesitant to take the plunge into the pool or any body of water.
"It was always embarrassing and I was ashamed not knowing how to swim, especially living in Florida, where, what do you do in the summertime and in the spring? You go to the beach," Fuller said to FOX 13. "So, a lot of times, I would turn down a request from friends to go to the beach or to the pool because I would be like, ‘Sorry guys, I can't swim.’ So, it would be really embarrassing."
He decided to make a change after a vacation.
"Somebody that I met in the Virgin Islands told me that, before they moved there, they were sort of, like, an OK swimmer. But, they thought, ‘I'm going to be on boats a lot’ so they said that they took classes at their local YMCA in California to sort of beef up their swimming skills. So, I thought, ‘I'm going to do that,’" Fuller explained.
He signed up for swim lessons at the St. Petersburg YMCA but he took it a step further.
He encouraged other adults to sign up by documenting his progress on Instagram.
"Just sort of breaking that stigma and that shame of adults not knowing how to swim," Fuller said.
"In Florida, we have an alarming number of drownings and it's always so heartbreaking. So, for Miguel to use his platform for good and help promote the YMCA and teaching swimming, I think is amazing," explained swimming instructor Amanda Girton.
She said even in Florida, it's pretty common to come across students like Fuller.
"About 30% of my clients are adults. About half of my adult students say, ‘I had a traumatic event as a child and I never learned to swim again,’ or ‘I was too afraid to learn how to swim,’" said Girton.
She said there's a difference that she's noticed in teaching adults versus teaching kids.
"With a child, you can tell them what to do: Jump in the water and I promise I will catch you and I catch them. With adults, I can tell them that and they are just too rational and think, ‘Well, I'm going to drown, so, no, I'm not doing that.’ So, the difference is adults, you can explain, ‘You will not drown. You can touch the bottom. I will save you,’" said Girton.
"Something we were working on was relaxing and floating on my back, which I'm not an easy person to relax, so that's what we spent a lot of time working on," said Fuller.
With each lesson, his skills grew along with his confidence.
"Miguel told me he could not swim at all," said Girton. "He was terrified of the water by the end of our first lesson he was halfway across the pool by himself."
"Don't be afraid," Fuller added. "It's nerve-wracking and you feel ashamed but don't be because, to me, that's when you continue to grow as a person when you do things that scare you."
For more information on private and group adult swimming lessons at the YMCA, click here.