Girl overcomes fear of swimming thanks to program partially funded by Wyndham Championship

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Zoe Thomas has spent much of her summer going to the pool and swimming with her brother and sister.

“I like to do all sorts of tricks,” she said.

The rising Guilford County fourth-grade student has come a long way from once being afraid to even put her face underwater.

“Scared, you don't even want to try and hold your nose,” she said.

Unfortunately, that fear would resurface the first time Zoe attempted to be baptized.

“I just couldn't do it. It was too hard,” she said. “I felt sad because I really was ready to get baptized because I believe in Jesus.”

Thomas’ parents looked into getting swimming lessons, but they were too expensive -- especially for all three kids.

“We were still kind of trying to figure out what we would do and then she comes home with the permission slip for Learn to Swim,” said Brooke Thomas, Zoe’s mother.

The Greensboro Aquatic Center’s “Learn to Swim” program operates in partnership with Guilford County Schools to teach second-graders how to swim at no cost to their families.

The Wyndham Championship has been part of the effort to raise money for the Matt Brown Learn-to-Swim Endowment.

The program helped Thomas feel comfortable in the water -- giving her the confidence to be baptized.

“It was like a miracle for me,” she said.

Thomas shared her story at the Fred Barakat Sports Dinner presented by the Wyndham Championship.

She also spoke at a Guilford County Board of Education meeting to thank school leaders for supporting the program.

Learn to Swim is privately funded.

Currently, only 23 percent of Guilford County second-grade students can participate because of funding limitations.

The goal is for the endowment to raise enough money to fully fund the program.

Details about the program and information on how to make a tax-deductible contribution are available on the Greensboro Aquatic Center website.