This is first in a new series called “It Takes a Village” where I interview the numerous people involved in Lil’ G-Man’s life.
For the inaugural entry, I had an entertaining sit down with Lil’ G-Man’s swim instructor at Goldfish Swim School Farmington Hills: Arman Ahrabian.
Lil’ G-Man has been taking mini 2 swim classes with Arman at Goldfish Swim School Farmington Hills now for a few months. Lil’ G-Man absolutely loves it and I have been surprised at how quickly and easily he has taken to the water.
I will admit when we first signed up Grayson for swim lessons and I heard our instructor was a man named Arman, I did not envision him looking like the Hercules that spent his free time saving the universe with the Avengers. But Arman looks like he may have eaten that Hercules for breakfast and then gone back to the buffet for more protein!
It is actually pretty humorous watching this gentle giant working with the babies in Goldfish’s Mini 1 and Min 2 classes. He grins ear to ear while using an orange puppet to sing nursery rhymes or encouraging the kids to kick and pull in the water.
GeekyDaddy (GD): Tell us about how you got started here at GoldFish Swim School.
Arman Ahrabian (AA): I actually live right nearby and saw they had an opening.
GD: So did you have previous swimming or life guard experience?
AA: Yes, I was a lifeguard elsewhere but the part of the job I enjoyed the most was interacting with the children and families. This has been my primary job for about 6 years now and I love it. I have one class left before I finish up my degree in finance.
GD: I know Goldfish is strict about certifications for their instructors. Please tell us a little about what certifications are required and what is involved with getting certified.
AA: We are all Ellis certified which has very in-depth in water lifesaving training. I had always been Red Cross certified until I came to Goldfish. Both certifications are very extensive and requires a lot of practice.
GD: So as we look around the room and we see the dozens of instructors in the bright orange rash-guard tops, they all went through an intensive certification process?
AA: Yes. And we all get re-certified annually. CPR, First Aid, AED, life guarding – everything is 1 year.
GD: What is the biggest hurdle you have teaching little children how to swim?
AA: I think it’s just bringing the child in to see and trust somebody new in their life. We are a very safe environment. As you remember with Grayson, on the 1st day we don’t put their head underwater. We start off with just water to the chin and then we eventually go up from there. We try to keep them calm and show them everything is ok.
But then we also have the parents that won’t let their kid experience something different. They try to coddle them and take the kid away, but the child needs to experience the water and learn that they are going to be ok.
GD: Do you ever experience resistance from the parents when it comes time to graduate to the next level of lessons? Either the “my child is not ready yet” or the opposite “my child is to advanced for this”?
AA: Oh yes, of course. There are certain skills at each level that the supervisor is looking for to determine if the child is ready for the next level. Such as Junior I where the instructor is looking to see the child swim 5 ft to the island in the pool, turn around and swim 5 ft back to the bench. That is the end goal for Junior I. That goal doubles for Junior II and so on. The distances progressively get further and further and the skills we are looking for get more difficult and more technical as the child moves through the curriculum. Dolphin kick, side breath and so on.
GD: So it sounds like a lot of thought and research has been worked into the process.
AA: Yes, exactly. The process works, I have seen it work for so many kids over the years.
GD: I know you teach a wide range of age groups. What is your favorite age group to teach?
AA: I love the baby classes! I was initially told I would not be able to teach the baby classes because I am too big and intimidating. I love that I am the first person they get to work with other than mom and dad.
I also love our Pro 2 level. These are kids a bit older that want to be pushed harder. These are kids that are not old enough to be on a swim time but want to be prepped for a swim team.
GD: From your experience teaching multiple age groups, have you found that there is a certain age window that is the perfect time to start getting them used to the pool? I guess they can never be ‘too old’ but is there an age that is ‘too young’?
AA: The main thing is to make sure the baby can hold their own head up, which I suppose is around 6 months. They need to be able to use their little muscles to keep their head up. I think, from what I have seen, 2-years-old is perfect because then we can get a few months in the baby classes and move right into the big pool with the teacher and the student.
GD: We mentioned earlier that you are in the process of finishing up your finance degree. What is next for you when your swim instructing days are done. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
AA: I would like to have a job with some meaning. My ultimate goal is to someday work for the Department of Defense. Whether it been in logistics or inventory management, just something as a civilian where I still feel I can give something back.
GD: I feel safer already. Time for the main question of the interview that I am sure everyone has really been wanting me to ask you.
AA: Uhhh.. ok…
GD: DC’s Aquaman or Marvel’s Namor: The Sub Mariner?
AA: Oh Aquaman of course!
GD: Yes! I agree! Now why do you think Aquaman gets such a bad rap? He has an awesome skill set (super strength, endurance, telepathy) and yet people think of him as the Ken doll of the Justice League only being able to find the best tuna fish sandwich in the tri-county area or something.
AA: I agree. In the new Justice league movie coming out, he has the build, he is jacked, long hair, the trident, he looks serious…he just portrays the masculinity that the old cartoon never had with the green pants.
(notice he didn’t mention the old Aquaman’s orange shirt…)
GD: Lastly, if you could have any super power, what would it be?
AA: Super Strength!
GD: You look like you have that already. How much can you currently dead lift?
AA: I’m currently at 660 lbs but my goal is a 700 lb deadlift, 750 lb squat and 450 lb bench press.
GD: Wow. Well if GeekyDaddy throws a Halloween party this year, we are giving you the Krylon touch, painting you green and you are invited as the incredible Hulk.
Last question: Every super hero needs some theme music. If you were a super hero or professional athlete, what would be your theme music or your walk out music?
AA: Welcome to Detroit by Enimem.
GD: Way to keep it local! Thanks for your time today and see you in the pool on Saturday!
AA: Sounds Great!
Tell them Geeky Daddy sent you!