YMCA Pool Helps Peter Deming Get Over Decades-Long Phobia

Gym member who swims at the YMCA tells his Y Story.

After the way his last trip into the water went, there was no reason to think that Peter Deming would ever find his way back in.

When Deming was 10 years old, he was swimming in murky waters in a pond near his home in Cheshire (Conn.) before sliding under the water. His father rushed into the water to save him, only to find that Deming had swallowed a large amount of water and was unresponsive. His father called 911, where responders were able to save him.

That was the last time that Peter Deming went swimming for 66 years.

“I put my feet in, but I didn’t go swimming for 66 years,” Deming affirmed.

t wasn’t until Deming was 76 years old that he decided that swimming at the Brandywine YMCA in Coatesville would be a great way to stay in shape. He admittedly still had some trepidation about it, but after easing his way into the pool, his fears were eventually washed away.

“I was a little bit nervous, but it didn’t take long for me to get over it,” Deming said. “The people here are very good. “It was probably a couple weeks. They walked me into the pool and held on to me, and I had a life jacket on, of course. They took me into the deep end, up to my neck, and took me across the pool. After that, it knocked a lot of my fear out.”

For nearly seven decades, Deming never went in the water. Now, it’s almost impossible to keep him out of the pool. Being in the pool offers him a low-resistance workout that’s easier on his body, particularly his joints. He also lifts weights, but the pool is his favorite place. He’s there every day for about an hour from Monday to Saturday.

“It’s keeping me going,” Deming said. “I’m 78 now and I’ve been a member of the YMCA for five or six years. I’ve gotten older, but I’ve been able to maintain my status. I drive, I swim, I do things. I don’t ever want to get in a wheelchair or a home. That’s not me. The thing that’s nice here is that I do my exercise and then I have a social hour. I got rid of my oxygen machine. I got rid of diabetes and they cut my blood pressure medicine in half. That helped, and also eating proper foods. I don’t eat junk.”

In the pool, Deming doesn’t use his upper body much, preferring to work on his kick and lower body. He prides himself on his kick, too, a direct result of daily workouts to improve. At the same time, Deming has found a home at the Y, not just in the pool. He’s involved in some committees. That’s why he sticks around for his “social hour,” and it’s a major reason as to why he’ll keep coming back.

“I’ve made a lot of friends. I know a lot of people,” said Deming, whose passion at the moment revolves around putting on a talent show at the Y. “It’s a Christian organization. I like people and I like getting to know them, and I wouldn’t have that opportunity elsewhere. It’s my second family. It’s one big family.”