What makes a great instructor? It starts with a great person; someone who is genuine and real, candid and open. A great instructor is one who is kind, honest, and respectful. This was Eric Bass: a young man with a heart of gold and a spirit of gratitude and kindness. Taken too soon at age 33, Eric did amazing things during his time on Earth and his legacy will live on at Swimming Safari Swim School, through our Memorial Scholarship Fund with Hope Floats Foundation to benefit underprivileged children.
Joani Maskell, owner of Swimming Safari Swim School, remembering Eric Bass: “Eric was one of Swimming Safari’s very first instructors. He started when we were still teaching out of backyards when my first instructors were my children and their friends. He met my son in pre-school, and they would remain close friends for life. Eric had an easygoing, warm demeanor. He was so fun to be around and always made us feel like the best versions of ourselves. I watched Eric grow up from a kid with a headful of curly blonde hair doing cannonballs into my pool, to becoming a man I was proud to employ. It was special to watch him teach swim lessons in that same pool he spent so many happy days in.”
“I’ll never forget when we started teaching special needs children. I could sense uncertainty in many of my instructors, they didn’t want to say or do the wrong thing. But Eric had so much confidence and energy, he rose to the occasion and volunteered to work with them. Before long, laughter and cries of joy could be heard from the children as they grew more comfortable in the water.”
Eric was a Jacksonville native who attended high school at The Bolles School, where he played lacrosse. He went to Tulane University, and graduated there with a degree in Finance. After college, he worked for Deloitte, an accounting and consulting firm. He lived in several major cities before eventually settling in New York City; a city which matched his energy, adventurousness, and love of Italian food. There, Eric thrived both personally and professionally, and became engaged to the love of his life.
Eric was much more than just the type of instructor all the parents wanted their children to have, he was the type of friend you wanted to have, and the type of person you wished you could be.
Eric made his way in this world by working hard and being the kind of person who inspired others to follow his lead. He was very successful in sales, consulting, and life, largely because of his warm and easy-going personality. He portrayed these same traits while teaching swimming. Although missed dearly, we are thankful every day for the time we did have with him.
At Swimming Safari, we are honoring his memory through the creation of the Eric Bass Swim Lesson Scholarship, which will provide swim lessons for children in our community and the community Eric grew up in, who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
The equivalent of thirteen school buses full of children die each year in the United States due to drowning. Although 100% preventable, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under age 5 and the second leading cause of accidental death for children under age 14. Studies from the National Institute of Health show that swim lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88% in children aged 1-4.
“Swimming it forward,” with this newly established scholarship fund, we feel is a wonderful way to honor Eric. Every child that gets a chance to learn to swim will be a small way we can remember Eric Bass.
You can Support the Eric Bass Scholarship fund with your donation HERE: