Museum Staff, "Swimming Lessons from Susie." In The Midst Of, Cokato Historical Society (June, 2019) vol. 39 no. 2.
Susie Keskey began teaching swimming lessons on Brooks Lake on June 19, 1961. The lessons were sponsored by the Red Cross and the American Legion. They featured four divisions of instruction: Swimmers, Intermediate, Beginners, and Lifesaving. Keskey recalled that “When we had swimming lessons in early June the kids had a hard time staying warm. I had a lot of blue lipped kids.” She also remarked, “We would always bring a salt shaker to take off the blood suckers.”
When the museum staff begged Keskey for more stories about her time at Brooks Lake, she told us, “During playtime,
either before or after a swimming lesson, one of Nancy Dokken’s sons found an arrowhead in the water. I told him to take it to his mother and ask for a history lesson.”
Keskey taught swimming at Brooks Lake and continued teaching even after the location switched from Brooks Lake to the Dassel-Cokato High School’s pool in the 1970s. She coached swimming at the high school until 1995. Aside from the occasional encounters with leeches and cold water, many people fondly remember Susie’s swimming lessons. When museum staff mentioned Brooks Lake lessons on Facebook, Pat Primus Miller wrote, “I also grew up on and in Brooks Lake. Swimming, taking swimming lessons with Mrs. Keskey, then taking training to give lessons. Also lifeguarded for a few years. A wonderful place for kids and families to spend the day!” Beverley Anderson also responded, “Like Pat I too took lessons from Beginners through Life Saving and taught lessons and Life Guarded for a few years. Some of my most favorite memories are from those times in Brooks Lake and to this day, I LOVE the water and enjoy swimming!”
Although there are more stories, we leave you with some swimmingly good advice by Keskey, “Kids, go home and tell your parents to let you eat marshmallows so you can float better.”
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