Donna L. Carr

Honored by:Jeri Olson
Brick location:B:9  map

Donna was born in 1925, the same year her father, R.E. "Dad" Carr, began construction of Carr's Pool in Ames. It was a large pool, 60 x 175 feet, and the only privately owned pool open to the public in the state of Iowa. "Dad" had pulled youngsters from his water-filled gravel pits and felt strongly there was a need for the pool. Unable to get city support with the project at that time, he went ahead to design and build the pool on his own.

Donna loved the water from the very beginning, and by the age of 3 years she amazed everyone with her skill and ability to swim across the 60 foot width. By her early teens, Donna discovered her real love...she began to teach swimming under the Red Cross program. In 1950 Donna and "Dad" Carr conceived the idea of teaching toddlers as young as one year to swim. A very innovative approach for that time, and the "Tiny Tot" Program was born. Donna organized the program and trained the teachers from its inception until 1974. Thousands of children learned to swim under her loving guidance.

By 1951, the Carr family realized the need for instruction programs for the physically and mentally challenged. Donna developed teaching techniques and teacher training programs that could be tailored to each person's special needs. Through working with the physically and mentally challenged swimmers, Donna became increasingly aware of the need to deal with the student's fear of the water. She approached these swimmers with the understanding that it was fear blocking their way to success in the program, and with love and patience began to help them overcome this barrier.

She also taught adults in evening classes at the ISU Women's Gym, reaching many adult women who had never learned to swim or had fears to conquer before they could begin to learn. In addition to the programs, Donna kept a full schedule of private-lesson students and continued to train teachers for both programs and private lessons. Donna was a truly gifted swimming teacher, but what set her apart was the love and compassion she brought to her students. She always "listened with her heart" and taught countless children and adults to swim and to tackle their fears in the water and in life.