FLEMINGTON, NJ - The Hunterdon County YMCA welcomes Janet Howard to her new role as the Stingrays Swim Academy Coordinator.

The HCY has provided swim lessons and water safety programs to the community for over 50 years and recently launched the Stingrays Swim Academy, a new format for swim lessons. Howard has been a swim instructor at the Y for almost 20 years, and recently began a new role as Coordinator of the Swim Academy.

Challenges are nothing new to Howard. Spending summers at the Jersey Shore, she was the first female ocean guard at Normandy Beach. She obtained her WSI certification over 35 years ago and taught swimming and trained lifeguards as one of her first jobs. Janet obtained a degree in Elementary Education and History at Bucknell University and then earned Master’s degrees at both Rutgers and Drew University in Literature and Social Studies.

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Howard has been a swim instructor at the HCY since 2001. Currently, she specializes in instructing swimmers at the pre-team level. In addition to teaching swimming, she has been the volunteer coordinator for the past 10 years during the Y’s Annual Special Olympics Area Swim Meet.

In her new role, Howard will work with, Aquatic Director Flora Mannino, to assure the smooth running of the Stingrays Swim Academy.  She will coordinate and train staff, supervise the program and provide support and communication to parents regarding their children’s progress. Howard will also continue to teach pre-team classes.

Howard sums up her approach to teaching swimming and training staff as, “I believe that kids need to be set up in a relaxed environment and feel comfortable before they can learn (anything!) including swimming.  When teaching a skill, I try to remember what it was like being a kid and think, would I want to do it and is it fun? I believe swimming is a great outlet for children’s energy and is a strong foundation for physical fitness and general well-being. I hope that participation in lessons will build character, develop unique motor skills and prep children for a safe future in the water.”

As a Y member since 1985 and a parent, Howard trusted the Y’s Program for her own children. 

“My two children, Tim and Annie, grew up at the Y participating in all sorts of classes, soccer, gymnastics and of course swim lessons," she said. "Their love of sports all started at the Y.”

Recently retired from the Readington Township Middle school where she taught grades five through eight, Howard also coached field hockey, track and cross country.

“I am so excited to use my experience as an educator and coach to help make the Stingrays Swim Academy the best swim school in the state," she said.

The Hunterdon County YMCA indoor pool is located at the Deer Path Branch, 144 West Woodschurch Road, Flemington. The Stingrays Swim Academy serves children 6 months through 12 years, beginner level through advanced, providing quality swim instructions. The Academy combines the Y’s same progressive swim program, with new features that provide additional convenience for families and benefits for young swimmers. The Academy offers a simplified registration process, greater consistency for children, the opportunity for children to progress at their own pace, and a clear pathway for those seeking a competitive team experience. Registration is now open and more information is available at www.hcymca.org/swim-academy.