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Swimming activist brings program to Hudson

Debbie Townsend is joined by two young volunteers in the small therapeutic pool at Points of Stillness. Photo by Margaret A. Ontl

Debbie Townsend, an aquatic therapist and founder of the Clownfish Swim Club in the Twin Cities, is bringing her unique vibrancy to Hudson. She will be offering swim classes and lessons Tuesday through Sunday beginning in November.

Located in the quiet atmosphere of a therapeutic pool, which means it is kept at 92 degrees, Townsend will be teaching individual lessons for children with special needs, open swim for babies, six months to two years and toddlers from two to four years old; a stretch class for adults and adult aqua fitness and fun -- for the inner child.

Townsend taught one-on-one adaptive swim lessons at Courage Center for 15 years.

"My goal was to develop a program for the pool that children with disabilities could embrace," said Townsend, who created The Clownfish Swim Club in Eden Prairie, Minn. "The kids wanted more, beyond what I was able to do at Courage Center." That is why she left Courage Center in 2007 to strike out on her own.

The Iowa native, who at one time lived in Hudson, stated she has been a swimmer all her life. Swimming was and still is her passion. While she has left competitive swimming, which included racing, synchronized swimming and diving behind, the Clownfish swim club, a non-profit organization, gives her a chance to give extraordinary experiences to children with disabilities including those with cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome and autism.

"It is a fabulous opportunity for these kids," said Townsend. "It has created a social network for them and it gives the kids the confidence that they can join in."

Some of her members have gone on to participate on their school's swim teams. An all volunteer staff of five teaches lessons three times a week in the summer and once a week in the winter.

Townsend hopes that by offering lessons in Hudson, she will eventually be able to expand the Clownfish Swim Club to western Wisconsin as well.

For more information or to register for lessons, call Townsend at (952) 303-5525 or (651) 280-0489.

The pool is located at Points of Stillness, 2705 Enloe Street in the St. Croix Business Park.