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Mr. Pace, who is taking lessons at AquaSkills, says his parents never knew how to swim and raised him in New York City, where he didn't have easy access to a pool. "Most of my friends at the time didn't know how to swim, so it didn't seem like a big deal," he says.
Joseph Riggio, who lives in Brooklyn, also signed up for swim lessons at AquaSkills, where his biggest hurdle has been overcoming an intense fear of the water. He says his father believed the best way to protect his son was to make him afraid of the water. Mr. Riggio recalls a trip to Coney Island when he was about 7 years old in which his father pushed him under the water repeatedly.
"After he threw me into the water the third time, I stayed down, and then he pulled me up. I was choking and coughing up water," says Mr. Riggio, owner of New York Pizza Suprema, a restaurant in Manhattan.
From then on, learning to swim became a problem for Mr. Riggio. He tried taking lessons as both a child and adult but couldn't overcome his phobia.
Vibhav Talauliker and Ashley Williams at an AquaSkills swim class. Mr. Talauliker, who grew up in Mumbai, says he didn't have easy access to a pool. Ms. Williams is taking lessons to overcome a fear of water that began as a child, when she watched as her cousin nearly drowned.
To ease Mr. Riggio's fear, Ms. Pailet spent the first few lessons simply talking and walking through the water with him.
"She asked about my family and children and teased me about my pizza business as we did exercises," he says.
Mr. Riggio had to unlearn all of his poor habits and commit proper technique to muscle memory. Now, he can do the arms, legs and breathing motions separately but has trouble syncing it all up. When he tries, often he just ends up splashing.
"Yes, it's embarrassing, but I'm going to be more embarrassed if I'm not a good swimmer but my children are," Mr. Riggio says.VISIT