Chris Yost teaches a new generation of young swimmers

She’s been teaching Lancaster County kids how to swim for more than 25 years, mostly at the Lancaster YWCA. She started volunteering at Schreiber about six or seven years ago, helping Education Director Jay Graver in the preschool classroom.

That led to Lisa Gilbert, who used to run Schreiber’s swim program, asking Chris if she would be interested volunteering as a Swim Buddy, teaching the preschool kids water safety.

“When Lisa left, I said to Jay, ‘I would do preschool swim for you as long as I could also do (private) lessons,” Chris said.

The funny thing is, Chris grew up in Baltimore and never saw an indoor pool until probably middle school.

“We swam in the bay or the ocean,” she said.

But she took to pool activities like a duck to you-know-what.

She started out in an aquatic exercise class for adults — as a participant. Then she had some opporutnities to help with some kids’ classes.

“One of the instructors saw me and said, ‘You’re pretty good with kids. We should get you certified’,” Chris said.

She’s been in the water ever since.

“She’s probably helped thousands of kids in Lancaster County learn to swim,” Jay said.

She has about 24 kids signed up for lessons now. Most are one-to-one lessons; occasionally with a sibling she might work with two kids at a time.
Thursdays are her busy day. She’s in the pool from 10:30 in the morning to past 7 at night. One recent Thursday, Colby Haines showed off his skills, jumping in at one corner of the pool and swimming diagonally to the far corner.

“He could not swim when he started,” she said. “A little nervous about getting in. Didn’t want to get his face wet. Now, he’s doing really well.”

And that’s what keeps her coming back: seeing kids grow. It’s an extension of everything that happens at Schreiber.

“The kids are so wonderful,” she said. “We like the inclusion idea. Kids feel so comfortable with any kind of child. The people here, the teachers, the therapists — they’re all here for the kids. It’s just a great atmosphere to be involved in.”

Ever thought about volunteering at Schreiber? As Chris Yost’s story shows, there are plenty of ways to become involved. Be a Swim Buddy with the Schreiber S.T.A.R.S. preschoolers. Help in the Circle of Friends Academy classroom. Bring a group to Schreiber to clean, spread mulch or decorate for a holiday. For more information, contact Volunteer Coordinator Susan Fisher by email or at 717-393-0425 ext. 129.