The two founders of Aquachild Swim School—Scott Launer and Brian Lilburn—came to embrace aquatic education through disparate means. When Scott took his then 2-year-old daughter, Jaya, to swim lessons, he was amazed to see 10-month-old babies floating on their own and began his journey to becoming a youth swim instructor. Brian, who nearly drowned in a backyard pool as a toddler, learned to love the water rather than fear it after his mom enrolled him in swim lessons. Scotty and Brian now share their life-saving knowledge alongside a staff of instructors that are all certified in water safety, first aid, and CPR.
Through Aquachild Swim School’s specially designed lessons, infants as young as 10 months learn to roll from facedown positions to back floats where they can breathe easily, and 1-year-old students begin to swim with their heads down, then twist onto their backs for air. As kids progress, they learn the four major strokes (front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly), brush up on the basics to keep them confident, or start snorkeling. The instructors lead adult lessons to help older students learn how to paddle at pool parties or triumphantly retrieve their boss’s golf ball from a green’s lagoon during corporate outings.
When Christina Theiss, owner of Swim with Gills, was asked by a reporter from WFLX to describe the feeling of teaching a child to swim, she responded: “It’s a magical moment. I feel like I’ve saved a life.” Since she started a traveling swim school, her feeling of accomplishment has become infectious, spreading to her fleet of swim instructors and to her husband, the second half of the Swim with Gills team. Rather than forcing their pupils to swim, they focus on building a trusting relationship with each child. This method increases students' comfort level, allowing them to gradually submerge themselves in water and achieve the complexities of mermaid sign language.
The five-star, PADI-certified staff at Jupiter Dive Center, a waterside school, mentors divers of all experience levels in progressive PADI courses. In the multiday courses, instructors teach to general open-water certifications and specialized styles, such as wreck diving and night diving. Guides also lead certified divers on guided day or night charters into the artificial shipwrecks and coral reefs blanketing the local sea floor. Though specific sites vary according to daily conditions, excursions drift past herds of sea life, including colorful schools of fish, peaceful anemones, and sea turtles out-swimming hares arrogantly napping in their own scuba helmets. Dive-shop staff outfits divers' bodies with high-end scuba gear, such as Scubapro suits and instruments.
Every day, Cynthia, manager of Jupiter Pointe Paddling, opens her hibiscus-adorned rental hut to let adventure seekers set sail from the sandy banks of a crescent-shaped private beach. A complimentary lesson accompanies every kayak or paddleboard rental, letting beginners get their bearings before they glide toward a nearby sandbar to spot sea turtles, manatees, and majestic stingrays. More experienced water skimmers can paddle up to the Jupiter Lighthouse, which grants a glimpse of 120 palm-studded acres punctuated by 25 special-status species of wildlife and one boring labrador. The staff of water warriors also mixes up the aqueous activities with Mommy and Me sessions, standup-paddleboard-yoga classes, and kids' lessons, along with exalting the outdoors with full-moon celebrations and sealife-spotting tours.
Based out of sunny Jupiter on the shores of the warm Gulf Stream, Scuba Works—named Best Dive Center in 2010 by CityVoter—guides aquatic adventurers on scenic diving tours. Helmed by a PADI-trained and certified diving instructor, the intrepid staff continually add to expertise with routine continuing-education courses. In addition to tours, Scuba Works offers basic and advanced open-water scuba-certification classes and stages annual productions of Jacques Cousteau's autobiographical opera, Dive In!.
The knowledgeable guides of Paddleboard Excursions are known to treat participants like family as they pilot groups of all ages and experience levels across the scenic waterways of Palm Beach County. Each tour or lesson kindles camaraderie as guides and instructors cater to every participant's comfort level and exploration goal. During lessons, teachers patiently work with their pupils to instill confidence and ensure that everyone can competently glide over the aquatic ripples and laugh at fish's inability to walk while standing upon professional paddleboards. Tours splash against the shores of Peanut, Munyon, and Jupiter Islands, and guides are quick to point out passing wildlife, such as manatees.