Hernando County YMCA Swimming Coach Ruth Smith has been named the branch’s 2023 Adult Volunteer of the Year! “Ruth has dedicated countless hours as a coach for our swim team,” read a YMCA announcement.
And before she was a volunteer, Smith served the YMCA as a loyal employee. “I’ve volunteered at the Hernando County YMCA for two years,” she said. “I worked and have retired from the YMCA after 30 years.” And throughout her extensive career at the Y, Smith found herself driven by a single motivation. “Giving back to the YMCA, teaching others and working with the swimmers and parents,” she shared.
Smith has brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to her position as well. “I have been teaching swim lessons since I was 18 years old,” she revealed.
Smith particularly enjoys introducing children to the joys of swimming and aquatic life. “I see the improvement of children in the lessons,” she shared, “especially when they overcome their fear of the water and get more comfortable with the water.” To this end, Smith oversees a full spectrum of classes that teach even the youngest of children both basic and advanced swimming skills. Smith explained, “I teach parent-child water discovery to introduce infants and toddlers to the aquatic environment. I also teach water exploration, how to blow bubbles, fundamental safety and aquatic skills.”
Smith teaches many skills specifically targeted toward the training and tutelage of top notch swimmers. These include preschool, water acclimation, water movement, floating, and safety-preserving front glide roll, back float roll, front glide exit, jump push, and turn grab water strokes.
Moreover, Smith leads and guides YMCA swimmers in official swimming competitions. “The swim team swims with the USA swimming program year round and at the YMCA mini meets that we offer during the summer,” she said. “It’s more about the individual swimmer and how much they have improved with their times in the events that they swim.”
Amber Slusser, past executive director of the Hernando County YMCA, praised the efforts and ongoing achievements of the agency’s volunteers. “Volunteers are at the core of the existence of the YMCA,” she said. “The Y movement started with one volunteer and has grown to serve communities and countries all over the world. Here in Hernando County, we could not do what we do without the support of our volunteers.”
Slusser said that agency volunteers form the core of YMCA programs and activities. “Our volunteers are critical to implementing what happens here at our community YMCA and in the community,” she said. “The time and the talent that they bring to serving people of all ages, from our sport coaches to membership volunteers, from our program volunteers to our teen leaders, and even our advisory council members.”
Slusser honored the Hernando County YMCA Volunteers of the Year for 2023. “Ruth and Lillian (Lillian Groudas, a dual enrollment student at Nature Coast Technical High School and Pasco-Hernando State College who was named Teen Volunteer of the Year at the Hernando County YMCA) are two examples of individuals that believe in the greater good of giving back to their community and we are privileged that they believe in the mission of the Y and see it as an organization that they want to help support,” she said. “We appreciate all that they do for our Y, as do the members.”