The Drill: For Benz, YMCA aquatics offers variety and reward

·3 min read

Jul. 21—WORTHINGTON — The job of a YMCA aquatics manager in Worthington might seem pretty basic, maybe even a little bit tedious, to those on the outside. But as Erin Benz would tell you, it's really a smorgasbord of variety.

"It's something different every day, which is what I really like," Benz described her job. "It can be teaching swimming lessons, I can step in as lifeguard, I might be helping out with swim tests, checking the chemical levels, making sure everything is checking out where it's supposed to be, registering people for programs, coaching swim team. So there's a lot of a variety of things that go on from day to day."

Benz has known her way around water for most of her life. A Worthington High School graduate who studied sport and recreation management at South Dakota State University, she is also a former member of the local Stingrays swim team. She is an assistant coach with the program headed by Donna Damm, who she used to swim for.

"I coached last year, but I was on the team for six years, and so now it's fun to step in and coach," Benz said. "I also help with some of our summer programs. We also offer private and semi-private lessons if we have some swim team kids that want to get some extra work in the offseason, or even during the season we might offer that as well."

This week's Globe Drill subject, Benz is a fan of the outdoors as well as the pool. She enjoys traveling, and one of her favorite activities is checking out state parks.

You can see the Drill video of Erin online at Here is a sample of our interview:

QUESTION: What's it like working with the little kids at the YMCA pool?

ANSWER: "One day it might be a really good day, or one day might be where they need a little bit of work. Like some of our strokes. They might not always get the butterfly one day, but the next day it's fun to see that click. Or like the breaststroke, getting that timing down. Once they get it, it's like a light bulb going off in their head."

QUESTION: Have you got a good story to tell?

ANSWER: "Last year we had a third-grader who was terrified of swimming by himself all the way down, 25 yards from our shallow end to the deep side of the pool. This year, took 'em one by one and I was like, 'OK, we're going to try it, we're going to do it.' And he kept saying, 'Help! help! I need help.' And I said, 'No, you got this. You're doing it, like you're still swimming. Your arms are out of the water, you got it.' And then we get all the way to the side, and he just looks at me and he's like, 'What did I just do?' And I'm like, 'You know what you just did. You swam all the way down by yourself. And he's like, 'I didn't know I could do that!'"

QUESTION: Tell us some of your interests outside of your YMCA duties.

ANSWER: "When I have time on my hands, I like to go to a bunch of state parks around the area. I used to play softball when I was growing up, so I still like to help out here and there with softball, playing softball. I play sand volleyball. I also like to travel to a bunch of different places, and I'm playing in the city band with my sister this summer."

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