PINEHURST – Corrie Dodds remembers how proud she was every time a new skill got checked off in the booklet recording her progress in the Red Cross swimming lessons she took as a kid.
She also remembers the unusual instructions she got on how to do the sidestroke: “Take an apple out of the basket; put an apple into the basket.”
Dodds grew up in Washington State in an environment of sports participation. She played softball – both slow- and fast-pitch – and soccer. Swimming was her thing, though, and so it remains – professionally now with her job as program supervisor with FirstHealth Fitness-Pinehurst and responsibilities that also include children’s programs.
Recently, Dodd’s job took an important turn with her certification as a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Trainer (WSIT). According to John Caliri, director of FirstHealth Fitness, American Red Cross instruction is “the gold standard for learn-to-swim programs across the U.S” and, as North Carolina’s only Red Cross-certified WSIT, Dodds fills an important need.
“One of the things that separate the American Red Cross program is the rigorous training the instructor trainers and then the WSIT candidates must go through,” he says.
“This has made it difficult for us to maintain as many qualified Water Safety Instructors as we need to meet the demand for swim lessons in our community. For FirstHealth to meet this need, we decided we had to have the ability to train and certify our own instructors. Corrie’s passion for the program, the students and the parents involved in the program, her attention to detail and her determination to do things right made her ideally suited for the task.”
As of January, Dodds will have been with FirstHealth Fitness 11 years. She started out as a group exercise instructor, and her role has grown steadily. She became program supervisor six years ago. A military wife, Dodds came to the Sandhills when her husband, E9 Joseph Dodds, was reassigned from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Fort Bragg.
They have two sons: Isaac, a 17-year-old student at Pinecrest High and Sandhills Community College; and 13-year-old Riley, a student at Southern Middle.
Previously, area swimming instructors had to travel out of state for their Red Cross Water Safety Instructor training. With Dodds’ new status, they can be trained “in-house” in the Pinehurst Fitness pool.
That meant a lot of work for Dodds, who had to complete a two-page form, write three essays, submit a letter of recommendation and participate in a telephone interview just to apply for the training academy. As an actual academy participant, she had to master and demonstrate appropriate skills and knowledge, lead multiple practice-teaching assignments and participate in administrative training. She was in the pool four to six hours every day.
Dodds’ five days of training took place in Atlanta, and not all of her fellow participants were as successful as she was. Of the nine who started the program, only four finished. Re-certification will be less rigorous, but will still involve a demonstration of her swimming skills and an online assessment.
Dodds expects all of the work will be worthwhile, though.
“We have an excellent swim staff as it stands,” she says. “Now we can work to make it even better.”
For information on lifeguard and Water Safety Instruction training, call Corrie Dodds at (910) 715-1841.