Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Man Embarrassed That Family Can't Swim

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am embarrassed that I never learned how to swim. I grew up in a neighborhood where nobody went to the pool and we didn’t have swimming lessons, so as an adult man, I cannot swim. Recently, some friends invited me and my family to go to a pool party. I want to go and intend to bring my family, but none of us can swim. I wonder if my family will feel uncomfortable. The kids can put on life vests and stay in the shallow end, but I would look like a fool with those floaties on. Should we go? Is it too late for me and my family to learn how to swim? -- I Can't Swim, Dallas

DEAR I CAN’T SWIM: Make sure that there is a lifeguard or adults who can swim at the party so that your children are safe. Privately let the host know that you and your children are not swimmers, and ask if there is someone who will be watching the kids.

Beyond that, yes, you can learn to swim as an adult. Go to your local YMCA to find out if they offer adult swim lessons. You can go once a week to learn the basics, which will be helpful for you. Same for your children.

Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones has partnered with the USA Swimming Foundation to help families learn to swim, in a program called Make a Splash. Cullen almost drowned as a child, and he doesn’t want this to happen to others, especially folks in communities that typically do not learn to swim. For more information, visit