Chances are, Marianne Timms may have taught you to swim, your parents to swim and maybe even held a class where your grandparents swam as well.
To commemorate Timms, who started out at the Canandaigua YMCA as a volunteer in the early 1980s and worked 30-plus years teaching hundreds to swim and working with others in rehabilitation, Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni surprised her Monday by attending her going-away party and declaring Monday as “Marianne Timms Day.”
Timms worked as a part-time aquatics instructor then moved to full time as the aquatic director before recently becoming part time again in preparation for her to step down.
“The work ethic she exhibits and the commitment she showed to the patrons and other employees is inspiring,” Polimeni said. “She’s always there and willing to step up.”
Polimeni and Timms went to college at Brockport together many years ago and have remained in touch since. Polimeni said her favorite thing about her dear friend was seeing her work with the summer programs.
“Whenever I think of her, I think of her with a group of other people,” she said. “She’s always working with others to improve their performance.”
Many people from years and years of Timms’ classes attended her going-away party, many with tears in their eyes and well wishes for their good friend and instructor, who will be spending the next few months in Florida on vacation to start her retirement.
“I’m going away because if I don’t, I’ll just work,” Timms said with a laugh.
She will certainly be missed as an instructor at the YMCA, but she said she looks forward to coming back to take classes and use the gym.
She has touched many lives, but perhaps none as much as Cheryl Anne Brewer, who met Timms approximately 27 years ago when she started working for the YMCA. The two have since become close friends and spent years developing and improving their swim programs for the community. Brewer will take over many of Timms’ responsibilities.
“She saw something in me that I didn’t and encouraged me,” Brewer said about her switch from teaching land exercises to swim classes. “We saw the needs for different levels in swimming, so together we enhanced and built on the programs. We even went outside of the Y to get certified to continue to change and improve our programs.”
YMCA CEO Laurie O’Shaughnessy first met Timms in 1989. O’Shaughnessy said Timms was the first person she became close to at work.
“She’s an icon of the YMCA,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I’ll miss her enthusiasm and the way she builds relationships. She brings people together. It’s more than just building skills, it’s building family.”
After returning from Florida, Timms said she’s still not sure what’s next, aside from her continuing to volunteer with her church and at Sonnenberg Gardens. One thing is for sure, she has made a difference in the Canandaigua community and beyond.
“I have enjoyed seeing the development of the people I’ve trained and who have learned how to teach swimming,” she said. “That’s the best part about being aquatic director: working with the kids who worked under me.”