Meet this week’s Head of the Class Mom, Ginny Nussbaum—co-founder of Island Swimming and a mom to two amazing kids!
Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Island Swimming?
Growing up as a competitive swimmer, I became involved in teaching swimming all throughout high school. I loved the experience! It married my two passions: swimming and teaching. I continued to swim competitively in college, where I majored in elementary education. Upon graduation I become the aquatic director at Adelphi University and began using my swim experience to enhance my education background. Among my other responsibilities, I was charged with developing the learn-to-swim program at Adelphi. I was in my element teaching children the technique of correct swimming while teaching them to love the sport. When I later took a position coaching and directing national and international competitive events with Nassau County, I missed the hands on training and development of young swimmers where I had first started out.
With experience developing some of the finest swimmers in the world and a vision for how to bring quality swim instruction to the future generations of swimmers, I co-founded our LIAC Learn-To-Swim program with my coaching partner. Our vision, “to teach from beginner to Olympian,” is what we have been working on together for the last 25 years.
What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
Balancing work and family is challenging, but hiring great people has been essential in providing me with the flexibility I need to spend with my children while still meeting my work responsibilities. To be sure, balance is very difficult. From the beginning I have always made bringing up my two children my number one priority, which means that I will be with my children during their special days, even if I’m missing work. I’ve had the opportunity to travel on many occasions with my daughter who competed as a world class dancer. My son stayed a little closer to home with his after school activities and I have been able to be at all his events. Being able to set your own priorities is a huge benefit of owning your own business.
However, the demands of my business have restructured some of the traditional ideals of family time. For example, because my workday is predominantly during the after school and evening time slot, we have made breakfast the family meal in our house. A big home cooked breakfast together, sitting around the table, is the way we start each day. It has been a conscious decision to carve out time to support my children.
Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
Doing my job has helped me become a better parent, and being a parent has made me better at my job. I cannot recall an isolated incident that has helped me accomplish either because, to me, it has all been about the process. But fun and laughter is definitively a key element in the process. With our swim team, we wear festive costumes, sing silly cheers, and dance on the pool deck. You can be sure that I am the leader of this wild pack.
What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
The greatest reward in my struggle for work-life balance is having two independent children who both have great moral compasses and diligent work ethics. However, the biggest challenge in the struggle for work-life balance is time. Time flies when you are building a business, raising children, and making a home. Before you know it, your children are both away at college. But when I am missing them terribly, I am so grateful for all of the time I spent struggling for a work-life balance. It is a worthy challenge.
If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
My advice to other moms would be to do what you love. I was fortunate that my skill set allowed me to use my schooling to complement my experience and passion for swimming. Instead of pursuing a traditional school teaching career, I was able to create my own platform to combine my two loves: teaching and swimming. It was my love for swimming and teaching that built my business and will put my children through college. It was a huge leap of faith to forgo the traditional route for the entrepreneurial one.
What is your favorite children’s book?
Don’t Make Me Laugh by James Stevenson is my favorite children’s book. The premise is that if the book makes you laugh at any point, you have to go back to the beginning and start again. My children didn’t want the book to ever end, so they would always find a way to laugh. It had a long run in our house as both my children took pleasure in ad-libbing the story to make it even funnier. It made story time full of laughs.
What has been your favorite kids’ class?
My favorite type of class is one that grows with the child so that you can see their skills and enjoyment evolve. When I first started teaching Learn to Swim lessons, my greatest satisfaction was seeing a child go from paddling to a beautiful proficient stroke. Seeing the individual development of each child while he or she learns to love to swim is my greatest joy in teaching.
What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?
I have a very large family (eight siblings!). My two children have thirty four cousins—big and close! Most of us live locally. Our weekend activities revolve around which cousin is doing what and where. We all attend each other’s events, or go to a play, game, or swim meet—it doesn’t matter. It is not unusual to have 18 family members at one cousin’s swim meet. We are an amazing cheering section.
What is your favorite rainy day escape?
Manicures and pedicures with the girls.
Ginny Nussbaum is the co-founder of Island Swimming, where she teaches kids age 2–10 how to swim and develop essential water skills through the program’s Learn to Swim program. She began her career as the aquatic director at Adelphi University and later took a position coaching and directing national and international competitive events in Nassau County.