Like Fish to Water

Chippewa Falls native teaches stars’ kids to swim, pens book

Parker Reed

TAKING THE PLUNGE. Michelle Lang wants your children to swim safely.
TAKING THE PLUNGE. Michelle Lang wants your children to swim safely.

From swimming in Chippewa Valley pools to teaching some of Hollywood’s celebrity children, an area native is celebrating the release of her new book, which aims to empower America’s future.

“A Mermaid’s Guide: The Simple, Peaceful Way to Make Your Child Into a Safe, Joyful Swimmer … Starting in the Bathtub,” is a new parenting book written by former competitive swimmer, swimming coach, and Chippewa Falls native Michelle Lang.

Lang said she wrote the book when she saw that drowning – not car accidents – were the leading cause of death among children ages 1-4.

“The good thing about drowning is it’s almost always preventable,” Lang said. “What we need to do is to get parents to have the skills to be able to infuse their children with early exercises at an early age, starting even in the bathtub.”

“A Mermaid’s Guide,” breaks down teaching your child to swim into three easily digestible stages, which Lang uses in her one-on-one, in-person teaching sessions. The goal of the stages/exercises is to empower the child, as drowning is often the first time in the child’s life they are being presented with a life or death scenario.

Lang has been teaching the exercises/techniques in her book for more than a decade, primarily in Los Angeles, but she also travels around the world for sessions, including to London, the Hamptons, and many more locations. Along her journey she has worked with a number of celebrities – including high-profile model and TV personality Kim Kardashian West – some of whom even endorsed her book.

“Everywhere we go people notice what a fantastic swimmer North is,” Kardashian said of her 5-year-old daughter. “They just can’t believe someone so young can swim so well. While working with Michelle, it was a joy to see North become empowered by the water.”    

Another celebrity child Lang has worked with is former American Idol Judge Simon Cowell, whose son Eric has benefitted from Lang’s teachings.

“Michelle is brilliant,” Cowell said. “Since he was two years old, Eric has been swimming like a dolphin. And thanks to Michelle, he has confidence in the water and will probably win an Olympic gold medal one day.”

While many people may assume these celebrity sessions may be filled with pressure and stress, Lang said that working with high-profile clients is ultimately no different than working with working-class people.

“In those situations it might seem like it would be different, but what I actually love about it is when I’m with the child in the water, it’s the same,” Lang said. “It’s all about the parents wanting their child to learn and be empowered by the water. Whether I’m in a large pool with a high-profile client, or in a community pool in a local town, learning to swim doesn’t change. The experience doesn’t change.”

When Lang isn’t writing books, teaching children how to swim or traveling the world, she also delves into acting. Over the course of performing career she’s appeared in TV shows and films such as “The Legend of Bruce Lee,” “Small Town Crime,” “Waffle Street,” and “Strangely in Love.”

Despite being involved in many different fields, Lang said at the end of the day she hopes her work makes a difference in the lives of parents and their children because there are ways of empowering your child so they know what to do when it counts most.

“We can protect our children, we just need the tools,” Lang said. “I hope this book becomes every parent’s No. 1 parenting book. We read plenty of books on potty training and eating, so when I found the need for a book on how to keep children above the water, I knew I needed to write this. I hope this book teaches children how to handle adversity in a peaceful and powerful way.”

Lang is hosting a book signing/reading at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St., at 2pm Sunday, June 30. Learn more about the book at Lang’s website, relaxationbasedlifestyle.com.