Community Center Offers Free Swim Programs For Anyone With A Disability


The Severna Park Community Center (SPCC) has launched an adaptive swim program for children and adults with a disability. SEALS (Social, Educational, All Welcome, Limitless, Swimming) will give more people access to the sport of swimming.

With donations from the Fund for Anne Arundel, Anne Arundel County, and the John J. Leidy Foundation, this program is now available for free through June 2023.

“The SEALS program advances our commitment to our community in making Severna Park Community Center a place where everyone belongs,” said SPCC Executive Director Sarah Elder.

The program was developed by SPCC’s director of programs and partnerships, Shelly Beigel, and designed to promote water safety, foster physical fitness, and improve emotional health. Swimming is known for whole-person benefits including improved cardio ability, strength-building, flexibility enhancement and positive mental health.

“Our son, Jacob, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 and half years old,” said Tracy Vest, parent of a special needs child. “When we learned of the SEALS program, I immediately signed Jacob up. We have been blessed to receive swim lessons for Jacob and for the first time he swam on his own (for a little bit). Programs such as the SEALS team are very important for families with special needs who may not be able to afford swim lessons.”

SPCC developed these options, which are adaptive and carefully supported by trained staff:

  • Weekly group lessons: For those who have acquired basic swimming skills but want to become stronger swimmers. Lessons are designed to build skills one step at a time.

  • Weekly private lessons: This is an “introduction to water and learn to swim” program for children and adults with little to no swimming experience. Participants work one-on-one with instructors on basic swimming skills and water safety.

  • Swim team: (youth and adult) For swimmers to be able to swim 25 yards independently and follow directions from coaches on deck. There are three inclusive intrasquad meets a year with people with and without a disability competing together. Swimmers are also eligible to participate in Special Olympics locally, regionally and nationally.

Many Severna Park Community Center swim staff members carry multiple certifications including Swim Whisperers, an adaptive swimming certification, the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) certification, and certification through Maryland Certified Educators in Special Education.

Participants must register in advance. For more information on SEALS, go to Questions regarding the program can also be directed to Shelly Beigel, director of programs and partnerships. She can be reached through the center’s main phone line, 410-647-5843, or via email at


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