Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Swimming lessons

It’s possible we overdid it at the pool today. We spent three (and a half) hours swimming this afternoon without even realizing it!

I first gave Rachel a half-hour of swimming lessons while Andrew played with Miriam and Benjamin. Then we switched things around and I gave Miriam a fifteen-minute lesson while Andrew played with Rachel and Benjamin. And then we swam and swam and swam. And then some friends showed up so we swam some more.

Rachel can do cannonballs off the side of the pool. She can turn summersaults in the water. She can dive down to the bottom (of the shallow end) to retrieve sinking toys. But she can’t float to save her life. Literally. We’re working on that part.

With Miriam, my main goal has been to get her to get into the pool at all. If she could have her way she’d splash around in the baby pool all the livelong day and when I make her get into the big pool she’s happy to just sit on the top step. So today we worked on bobs and kangaroo jumps. Miriam got quite good at rhythmic breathing and learned that if she stands on her very, very tiptoes (which she loves to do because it’s like being “on pointe” and what could possibly be better than that?) and bounces a bit, she can keep her face out of the water while she hops her way to the edge of the pool.

We also worked on our spider-walks (or monkey-walks, depending on our mood) along the edge of the pool.

Slowly, but surely, my children will be comfortable enough in the water to brave the deep end on their own—and live to tell the tale. Technically Rachel’s old enough to brave the deep end now. However, we’re trying to impress upon her the hard (but true) fact that she can’t swim.

“I’m a good swimmer!” she told me. “Can I please go into the deep end with my friends?”

“I love you. And I love everything about you. That’s why I’m going to be honest with you: you’re not a good swimmer. You can’t go into the deep end.”

“But, Mom! We just had lessons and you said I did a good job!”

“And you did. But you still have a lot of work to do. And you can go into the deep end by yourself once you can swim across the pool, I promise.” 

She went into the deep end with Andrew, who was tossing some of the neighbourhood kids around, and he tossed her (with her floaty around her middle) and she popped right out of it (naturally) and commenced to drowning—flailing her arms and sinking into the water repeatedly while her terrified eyes searched for help or air or anything. Fortunately, Andrew was nearby (having just tossed her) and gave her a hand.

You’d have thought that might’ve convinced her to stick to the shallow end, but it didn’t. When it comes to (domesticated) water, Rachel is fairly fearless.

Even Miriam was getting brave toward the end of our swim, walking along the wall with her head tilted way back to keep her airway dry, she inched her way along the edge of the pool and back again, pausing every so often to show off her bobs.

Benjamin used up all his bravery at the beginning of the swim. He’s not terribly fond of his floaty and once he was sick of it Andrew and I took turns carrying him around. He hasn’t figured out how to blow bubbles yet, which is odd considering how early the girls learned, but he will lean back in my arms and dip his hair into the water.

We all had fun and we all ended up looking rather sun-kissed.


  1. What a lovely skill to have, being able to teach your children to swim! I am so glad that all my children learned to be swimmers instead of drowners like me.

  2. Emmy just finished swimming lessons and at the beginning I was convinced she just wasn't buoyant enough to float on her back. But after a few lessons something clicked and she figured out how to push her belly up and actually won the back float contest the last day! Hopefully it will click for Rachel soon too!