We are now offering outdoor classes in addition to our virtual fitness options. Indoor classes remain suspended due to provincial health orders. Learn more

When Bonnie was a young girl she had a traumatic experience that left her terrified of water. This fear stayed with her well into her adult years. Even putting her face in the water filled her with anxiety.
In her mind, her fear wasn’t holding her back. She was still able to enjoy the many perks of living in the Okanagan including soaking up the sunshine, taking long walks with her husband and camping with her three kids, Alison, Ty and Carter.

As the kids started to grow up, however, she realized everything was changing. They each loved the water and were getting more adventurous every day. Bonnie knew how important it was for her kids to know how to swim in the Okanagan, and had enrolled each of them in swim lessons at a young age, but as her boys got older they were getting a little too confident with the water for her comfort.
Bonnie realized that if anything were to ever happen to them while swimming, she wouldn’t be able to do anything to help them. It was important to her not only to be able to help her kids if they were ever in need, but also to act as a positive role model for them. She didn’t want to teach them to be fearful like she was.

Bonnie was also coming close to the age of 40 and she wanted to start making healthier choices with her life. For many years she had put her husband and children’s needs ahead of her own and she wanted to make some healthy changes and set some goals for herself.
In an attempt to improve her health and face her fear, Bonnie began attending Deep Water Aquafit classes. After class one day, Bonnie approached YMCA Aquatics Manager, Torrie Zimmerman, to ask her a question and through conversation, Torrie realized that Bonnie was a non-swimmer and terrified of deep water. Bonnie shared her goal with Torrie of wanting to learn how to swim and to her surprise Torrie offered to teach her.

Bonnie’s two boys, Ty and Carter, are eight years old now and are enrolled in the YMCA Okanagan Swims program at the Kelowna Family Y. This program is designed to teach every third grader in School District #23 the lifesaving skills needed to survive a water related accident. At the end of the program children who are strong swimmers have the opportunity to sign up for the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim to try to swim across Okanagan Lake in July. Bonnie was encouraged by this and decided, with Torrie’s help, she would work towards a goal of participating in the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim in 2016.

And so her journey began.
With Torrie’s help, Bonnie has been training ever since. Her daughter Alison often comes to practice to encourage Bonnie to keep going and her boys and husband are also very proud and supportive.
It is never too late to learn to swim. According to Lifesaving Society, 21 per cent of victims who drowned in British Columbia between 2007 and 2011 were swimming during the time of the incident. Of these, 19 per cent were due to poor swimming ability.
We will be following Bonnie’s story over the next month and a half as she prepares for her goal to swim across Okanagan Lake. Stay tuned for more on Bonnie’s journey and how far she has come since day one.

UPDATE: Read part two of Bonnie's story here!