Director of aquatics Sharon Finotti helped teach I Am WiLD 94.1 radio host Buckwheat how to swim.

I Am WiLD 94.1 radio host Buckwheat has been taking swim lessons since the end of June through High 5 Inc.’s program in order to swim with his daughter.

Buckwheat met the High 5 Inc. team in March after touring the Brandon facility with his friend. He expressed his interest in learning to swim, but he also admitted to being very afraid of the water.

“I encouraged him and said anyone can learn to swim with patience and persistence. I let him know to keep his eye on his final goal of swimming with his daughter,” said Sharon Finotti, director of aquatics.

Buckwheat was encouraged by hearing that adults could learn to swim at any age. As the host of his segment on 94.1, he can tell listeners about his experience and pass on the encouragement he received from High 5 Inc.

“The first day, he was very apprehensive. His face told the whole picture, and I had to provide a lot of encouragement. He was good to stand in the water. We first worked on being comfortable in the water by blowing bubbles, shoulders under and working towards face in,” Finotti explained.

With the help of Finotti in a 40-minute lesson, he was able to kick short distances on his own and built confidence in the water.

“He was very pleased and surprised that he had achieved so much in a short amount of time. He was ready to come back for his next lesson,” Finotti said.

The hardest part of the lessons for Buckwheat was learning how to float on his back. Many new swimmers struggle with this skill because it requires the swimmer to be confident and relaxed in the water. Finotti explained that, despite the challenge, floating is a vital survival skill for students as they learn to swim.

“The most rewarding part is watching him learn the swimming skills and be able to do them by himself with confidence while achieving his personal goals,” Finotti said. “Ultimately, the reward is that we are saving lives. When people know how to swim, they can help others if a circumstance ever arises, and they have to save another adult or a child.”

For more information on High 5 Inc.’s swim lessons, visit

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.