Swimming Strikes Unique Community Service

Through the Masters Swimming program, Tom Moore and Mike Canfield set up vital lessons.


Students of the swim school pose in the water. Each lesson lasts for 30 minutes at Blake’s Hopkins campus.

Ainsley Pflaum, Staff Writer

Blake’s adult swimming lessons program started this spring with the mission of teaching all families, faculty, and staff to be comfortable in the water. Spearheaded by Tom Moore, father of Charlie Moore ‘25, and Blake science teacher and Junior Grade Dean Mike Canfield, the initiative has taught 24 students throughout four 30 minute lessons at Blake’s pool. 

United States Master Swimming is a nonprofit governing body for adult swimming, which over the last several years has developed an instructor training course and curriculum for teaching adult swimming lessons. As members of and volunteers for Minnesota Master Swimming, Moore and Canfield became certified swim instructors in the fall and booked the Blake pool for the spring, where they host the community lessons. They advertised the program in Bear Essentials Newsletter, inviting Blake families to participate. The program started with the intended audience of families of Blake students who have little experience swimming, but hopes to transform the initiative into a community wide service project where Blake community members offer free swim lessons to the public. 

The United States Master Swimming provides a designated skills checklist for Blake’s lessons, as well as insurance for the volunteers and participants in the program. The lessons take the approach of a one-on-one instructor to student ratio, so each participant has an instructor only focused on them for the thirty minute lesson.

“The very first lesson really starts as a conversation of what caused them to sign up,” says Moore. That entails their history of swimming (if any) and their comfort level with the water, whether that is being able to climb up and down the ladder, stand in the shallow end, or put their face in the water – any comfort level is welcomed and built upon over the four lessons. Each participant moves through the checklist, which starts with being comfortable in the water, putting one’s face in the water, and learning to breathe. Even for people who are comfortable in the water, the lessons start with these basic goals and from there each person progresses individually depending on their skill and comfort level: “There’s no right or wrong, there’s no specific endpoint, we just want everyone to get better and be more comfortable,” Moore explains.