BAC provides safe space for swim lessons

  • June Williams of the Beaches Aquatic Center gives instruction to two young swimmers. (photo submitted)
    June Williams of the Beaches Aquatic Center gives instruction to two young swimmers. (photo submitted)

Bill and June Williams, the managers of the Beaches Aquatic Center (BAC), have been teaching kids to swim for 42 years now. They work countless hours a week, between swim classes and pool maintenance, and they do it for free. The BAC was constructed in 1962, originally intended to be used by Fletcher High School’s swim team. In 1977, the Williamses took over, around the time that their oldest children needed swim lessons.
When asked why they were still so committed to running the center, even after all these years, Bill answered with just one word: “Satisfaction.” He recalls his time working for IBM, a large corporation, and states that there was never any sense of satisfaction, “but here, it really shows you what you can do with something.”
June is the actual teacher of the swim classes, while Bill handles more administrative tasks, but both of them are adept at working with children.
“It takes a little bit of child psychology. When one of them comes up to you, crying their eyes out and says, ‘I don’t want to swim anymore,’ I’ll tell them, ‘I hope you’ll learn to swim because if I hit my head and fall into the pool, I’m gonna need to you to save me.’ Anytime you tell a little kid to help an adult, they’re all gung-ho for it,” Bill says with a chuckle.
The couple teaches kids everything they need to know about swimming, from bobbing to breast stroke and flip turns. They hold lessons both at the BAC and during a swim clinic they hold at San Pablo Elementary. No swim team, though. Opportunities for young swimmers are more limited now than in decades past, according to Bill. Attending swim meets can be pricey and there are fewer public pools to host them. Even in the middle of summer, “seven of Jacksonville’s city pools still aren’t open.”
These are just some of the reasons why the Williamses continue to commit their time and energy toward running the pool center. With the declining availability of public pools and swimming instruction, Bill and June pride themselves on creating a safe, well-maintained space for children to learn.