Businesswoman Helene Barker, who taught thousands of children in the Coachella Valley how to swim, died June 25 at Eisenhower Medical Center.
Barker, 65, was the owner of Helene's Learn to Swim, a private swim school in Palm Desert. From there, at people's homes and at the Aquatic Center, Barker taught swimming from infants up to adults. Some of her students went on to swim competitively. Many of her clients came from all over the country, attracted to her unique teaching approach, which not only taught them swimming and water safety but also helped them develop confidence.
No services are planned at this time because of Covid 19.
Born in California, Barker got her start as a lifeguard and swim instructor at 16 living at Atsugi Naval Base in Japan where her father was stationed. After high school, she went to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation. There she was certified through the Red Cross as a Water Safety Instructor.
She moved to Sandwich Ill. where she worked as Waterfront Director at Lake Holiday. From there she worked at the local YMCA in Aurora, Illinois for 8 years working as a swim instructor, Assistant Aquatic Director, and finally as Aquatic Director. She held all 10 of the YMCA aquatic credentials as well as Red Cross CPR, First Aid, Lifesaving and Water Safety Instructor certifications. She also ran a swim program at Boulder Terrace Farm in Sandwich, Illinois, at her parent's backyard pool.
Moving to the desert in 1986 she took a break from swimming and entered the hospitality industry for several years, serving in the home of the late Bob Hope among others. Then she worked as a production coordinator, meeting planner, trade show coordinator and executive assistant for a local marketing firm in Palm Desert. In 1999 she started the business "Learn To Swim At Your Pool", teaching swimming in the privacy and convenience of home pools. Her business grew tremendously and in 2008, she started "Helene's Learn To Swim", at her own pool in Palm Desert.
The business flourished for more than a decade but Covid 19 had made operating her business a struggle in her 34th year of teaching children to swim.
She was preceded in death by her parents Capt. (Rtd) Franklin Barker and Elnor (Parker) Barker. She is survived by an uncle and cousins.
Rose Mortuary in Palm Desert has handled arrangements.
If you want to remember Helene's commitment to teaching swimming you can contribute to the USA Swimming Foundation, C/O Stephen Little, 42161 Beacon Hill, Palm Desert, CA. 92211-5108. Steve Little, founder of Claro Pool Services will match the first $1,000 donated.
Published by The Desert Sun from Jun. 29 to Jul. 1, 2020.