Jessica Haney has worked for Southern Lakes Parks & Recreation as the Aquatics Director since 2008. She lives locally here in the community with her husband and two children. She truly has a “passion for the pool!” For those of you in the FAST Swim Team Program, you know firsthand just how committed Jessica is to the team. We here at SLPR are lucky to have her!
Where did you graduate from? I graduated from Oakland University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts.
How did you develop a love for swimming? My parents felt it was important for me, my brother, and my
sister to learn to swim because of the safety factor. From swim lessons, we all eventually progressed to our age group swim team, the Brighton Eels Swim Team. I swam age group from age 8-18, and I also swam all 4 years in high school. I was the captain of my high school team when I was a senior. My favorite event was the 500 freestyle.
What interests you now? I love staying active and challenging myself physically. I like the fact that, as our kids get older, we can do physical activities as a family. We’ve taken the kids hiking, running, walking, and on bike rides, and, it’s always fun to get off the couch and explore the outdoors. I started participating in triathlons after watching my sister and my dad compete in one. I thought, “I could do that,” and, I was hooked. My favorite triathlon was also my longest triathlon–I completed a half ironman triathlon a few years ago. This past year, I completed my first full marathon, and completing 26.2 miles was one of my proudest achievements, along with the half ironman. My husband also runs and does triathlons, so it’s fun to share that with him. I like more sedentary activities too. I love reading, and I’m active in two book clubs. My favorite genre is YA (young adults). One of my favorite series was the Hunger Game series. I recently began writing again, and my dream is to publish a book before I turn fifty.
What makes this job so rewarding? I’ve been an aquatics director at SLPR for 7 years. The best part of my job is seeing kids progress within our swim programs. I have several kids, who started off in the learn-to-swim program 6 or 7 years ago, who are now on our FAST swim team, achieving success within our team program. I love watching the kids grow up! I also enjoy working with my staff. Most of my instructors and lifeguards are high school or college students, and they are a great group of young people. I know a lot about swimming, but, the kids surprise me almost every session with new ways to teach swimming skills. I like the different perspectives that they offer. My time with the majority of my staff is limited, as they eventually move on to different jobs, but, I like to think that SLPR gives them a chance to have an impact on young kids’ lives.
Are you in the pool all day, every day? What does an Aquatics Director do? As Aquatics Director for SLPR, I oversee our Learn-to-Swim program, our aquatic fitness classes, and our FAST swim team. I work part-time around 25 hours a week.
I have a real passion for the water, and, not only in terms of learning swimming skills. I also believe it is imperative for kids to learn about water safety, especially in Michigan, where we are surrounded by water! We follow American Red Cross guidelines with our Learn-to-Swim program, and a big part of those guidelines is safety in and around the water. I believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn how to swim, and to learn about water safety. My hope is that, by teaching water safety at every level of our Learn-to-Swim program, that we can reinforce the message of water safety, and hopefully, prevent unsafe behavior in and around the water.
Are you really a “child whisperer?” In the course of my job, I’ve often been referred to as the “child whisperer” for my ability to get a reluctant child into the water. I’m not always successful, but, I do believe it works best if a child participates in a class of their own choice. If a child is screaming and crying, forcing that child to participate can leave the child with a negative view of swim lessons. Our job as swim instructors is to make sure a child enjoys their experience with positive reinforcement and plenty of encouragement.
Want to meet Jessica in person? Sign up for one of the Learn-to-Swim programs, join the Swim Team, or take an Aquatics Fitness Class. You will get to meet the infamous Jessica Haney. She is available for autographs at the pool! To learn more about the SLPR swim program, please visit www.slpr.net, or email Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org