On A High Note, Sports

In and out of the pool, the Nashville Dolphins are changing lives

“Can you train me to compete in the Special Olympics swimming event?”

That’s the question that Beth Scruggs was asked nearly 10 years ago. After saying yes to the initial question, Scruggs added five more swimmers to her training group.

Nashville Dolphins founder Beth Scruggs has been changing swimmers' lives for many years. PHOTO COURTESY NASHVILLE DOLPHINS

Nashville Dolphins founder Beth Scruggs has been changing swimmers’ lives for many years. PHOTO COURTESY NASHVILLE DOLPHINS

And that’s where it all began for the Nashville Dolphins.

This awesome non-profit organization offers free swimming classes and lessons to nearly 200 people each with all types of disabilities.

The organization has seen swimmers with Down syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Williams syndrome, Dandy-Walker syndrome, global developmental delays, and other disabilities involved in their classes.

These swimmers learn from highly-skilled coaches and swim instructors that not only provide them with everything they need to know to succeed in swimming, but also give them a truly fun and unique experience that they won’t find anywhere else.

The Dolphins coaches and swim staff are all volunteers. They don’t do this for the money. They do it to help people that want the opportunity to do something they love.

Best of all? It costs the swimmers absolutely nothing.

Not only do the Dolphin swimmers learn the swimming skills, but they also get the opportunity to make new friends. PHOTO COURTESY NASHVILLE DOLPHINS

Not only do the Dolphin swimmers learn the swimming skills, but they also get the opportunity to make new friends. PHOTO COURTESY NASHVILLE DOLPHINS

There are several different types of classes that the organization offers its swimmers.

Future Dolphin classes were started all the way back in 2007. These classes were created for kids with little to no swimming ability. The organization has partnered with the Vanderbilt Special Ed. department to send students each semester to volunteer, earning them service learning hours in the process.

15 kids in each Future Dolphins class get 1-on-1 teaching with four 30-minute classes at Centennial Sportsplex.

There’s also the Junior Dolphin classes. These classes are aimed at kids who can swim, but still need help swimming the entire length of the pool.

It’s all about learning the strokes and following directions, with the aim being to prepare the swimmers to eventually move up to the swim team. Ensworth High School and Centennial Sportsplex host the Junior Dolphin classes.

Once they make it through that, swimmers can then join the official Dolphins swim team.

This team gets the chance to compete in four local Special Olympic swim meets each year. They also travel to one out-of-state meet, with this year’s meet taking place in St. Louis.

Swimmers like Aaron are able to earn medals in local and out of state swim meets. PHOTO COURTESY NASHVILLE DOLPHINS

Swimmers like Aaron get the opportunity to earn medals in local and out of state swim meets. PHOTO COURTESY NASHVILLE DOLPHINS

Volunteers come from all over to help the swimmers. Some come from Hands on Nashville, Vanderbilt, and local high schools. Others find their way into the Dolphins organization simply by word of mouth.

But no matter where they come from, they all have the same goal in mind.

The Dolphins organization is about helping people. And it’s been that way ever since Scruggs made the decision to help one swimmer achieve her dream.

Thanks to that decision and the creation of the Nashville Dolphins, thousands more have been able to do the same.

To learn more about the Nashville Dolphins, visit their website at DolphinAquatics.org. If you’re interested in volunteering or donating, email director Megan Kelly at megan@dolphinaquatics.org.

1 Comment

  1. Linda Harris

    That’s my grandson featured on this months issue of Nashville Dolphins. We are so proud of our little man, he can swim and loves the water. Thanks to this program and the volunteers it has made a difference in his life and his mother (especially around water and pools). Thanks so much, Gran