East Texan Teaches Swimming Classes For 50 Years

An East Texas woman shares what she says is one of life's greatest joys, swimming. But there's something unique about this American Red Cross volunteer...she's 81 and tries to swim a half- a- mile each day.

"If the Lord gives you the gift of teaching and you love the water then, what are you going to do with it, you teach swimming," says Mary Hudson.

Mary Hudson is 81 years young and for half a century she's been teaching children and adults how to swim.

"It gives you a great feeling to help someone learn water safety as well as swimming.  The basic thing is the adjustment to the water and breathing. When you master those two then you are well on your way," says Mary.

Today, Mary teaches a group of teenagers, they'll help in the swimming classes.

"They are the backbone, there is no way we could teach the number of children we teach if we did not have these teenagers," says Mary.

She has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for 50 years, all in an effort to teach kids how to swim.

"Even if they don't learn how to swim they will learn some basic water safety skills that may save their life," says Mary.

Mary says there is no way to estimate how many people she has taught.

"I run into people all the time and say oh you taught me or you taught me child," says Mary.

But the reward she says is seeing them succeed.

"It's so exciting to them and to me you know and it's just really thrilling and we all stand around and shout and cheer.  I guess the oldest that I have taught is maybe 75," says Mary.

She says it's never too late to learn how to swim.   Mary says she will continue teaching swimming as long as she's in good health.

The American Red Cross "Learn to Swim Program" begins next week. The classes are free. To register call the American Red Cross, Smith County Chapter. All sessions are on a first come, first serve basis.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.  kdavis@kltv.com