A Reflection on Inspiring and Teaching in Service of Others With Bethany Bower
Caitlin McDermott (C’23)
Campus Recreation Communications Assistant
One woman and her bright smile are always there to welcome you into Georgetown’s Campus Recreation facilities. Chances are, if you’ve ever been to Yates Field House, you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Bethany Bower. She fulfills many roles, teaching over 200 Red Cross Certification Courses a year, serving as Director of Aquatics and Risk Management and managing daily operations of the pool filter room, as well as scheduling and programming for the McCarthy Natatorium. We know her for her years of dedicated service to the Georgetown community, but if you take the time to listen, you’ll learn that there is so much more to the Bethany we know and love.
Before coaching Georgetown’s swim team, Bethany was a college swimmer herself. She achieved NCAA All-American status as a swimmer in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyles, NAIA national champion in the 50 and 100 freestyles, and was inducted into the Hartwick College Athletics Hall of Fame. Her love for the water came from her sister, Donna. The first All-American female swimmer at Colgate University, Donna’s experiences inspired Bethany to swim competitively. Fortunately for us, Bethany’s love for aquatic athletics was not restricted to participation under the surface; after her swim career, she became a coach. Prior to coaching at Georgetown, Bethany served as the Assistant Women’s Swim Coach at the U.S. Naval Academy, where she was also awarded the Navy Medal of Excellence for her service. Upon arriving at Georgetown, Bethany coached the Hoyas into Academic All-American honors every semester for 12 years.
Titles, awards, and honors, however, are not Bethany’s motivators. She cares for the people she works with and she is motivated by helping her students achieve their goals. She truly embodies our Jesuit value of “Cura Personalis;” Bethany dedicates her life to inspiring and teaching in service of others. When asked about her favorite memories throughout her career at Georgetown, she states that it’s “those personal connections… [they’re] what keeps [her] going.” She believes the most important lesson in life is to “never stop learning.” The leap of faith into the unknown in her own life has proved itself beneficial, as Bethany has become a Lead Care Navigation Coordinator with the public health team through the University’s Redeploy program. She’s used her spare time to improve the community around her, to adapt and learn more about these uncertain times, and to better herself. She also loves when adults come to her to learn, she thinks that “you can’t take yourself too seriously” when you’re trying something out for the first time as an adult; “you’ve got to have a sense of humor about it!”
“If there is one thing that you take away from this course, you know, one thing that helps you save somebody’s life, that’s great. You may not remember all the numbers, but maybe you remember to go get the AED or recognize a sign or symptom of a life-threatening illness; that’s amazing.”
In pursuit of the perpetual learning she encourages of her students, Bethany has taken the past year, 2020, as a growing experience. In her new role on the Care Navigation team, she’s worked with other strong women on the redeployment operation on Georgetown’s Campus. “This year has, you know, not been pleasant. But, it’s let me step back and create some new perspective… I’ve been very happy with redeploy. You know, it’s stressful at times, but I’ve been very happy… Now these past few months, eight months, nine months, I’ve been able to work with Dr. Ranit Mishori and Michala Koch in the public health team. These are just amazing people, amazing women, so it’s been nice for me; very awesome.” To assume leadership in a crisis is a testament to the power of Beth’s willpower and care for her community.
She shares in the joy of her adult swim students mastering their new skills; she cherishes the time she spends with students in Red Cross classes; and she’s inspired by those around her to keep on learning. To end her CPR and First Aid Certification courses, she always tells her students, “If there is one thing that you take away from this course, you know, one thing that helps you save somebody’s life, that’s great. You may not remember all the numbers, but maybe you remember to go get the AED or recognize a sign or symptom of a life-threatening illness; that’s amazing.”
When asked what has inspired her to live a life of service, as she has, she replied it was her family. Her sister, Donna, inspired her to swim, and her parents “Always supported [her] with endless love and never any judgement.” To her, family is the most important thing in the world. On speaking of her parents, she says, “They always knew me better than I knew myself, and you know, they were just… two amazing parents. So, every day, I strive to make sure that I make them proud.” Campus Recreation is honored to have Bethany making our facilities a brighter place to be, and her family, friends, and coworkers alike are unequivocally proud of all she endeavors to do in service of her community.