Tuesday, August 13, 2013

All about swimming

Miriam's been surprisingly timid about the water this summer but today we made a huge breakthrough and Miriam—outfitted with a floaty and goggles—can now paddle around the pool like a pro. It was rather a shock to everyone, including herself, when she finally pushed away from the ledge and went for an actual swim.

Still rather uncertain with her skills, she quickly started chanting, "Back to the stairs! Back to the stairs! Back to the stairs!" while she made her way over there. I challenged her to swim across the width of the pool but had to bribe her with the promise of going to the baby pool if she did it. Truthfully, I didn't think she'd take the bait, but she did, and then she swam around for the rest of the time we were there.

She swam all the way from the shallow end over to Rachel and Andrew in the deep end.

Rachel was having a blast practicing various jumps while Miriam looked on.

Benjamin and I walked beside Miriam while she swam back to the shallow end (because we had the camera so didn't want to get in the water). 

Miriam practiced swimming with her face in.

I love how she takes a deep gulp of air when she comes up.

About three-fourths of the way down the pool she decided to cut across to the stairs. Her confidence is astounding. Just a couple of weeks ago she screamed at me monstrously for taking her away from the wall—while I was holding her and she was still in her floaty. Today she just takes off across the pool all on her own.

She's very pleased with her new-found independence.

And here's Daddy coming to supervise her cross-pool swim because I'm staunchly committed to swim safety. I had basic swim safety guidelines pounded into my head during my stint as a swim instructor and can still chant them in sing-songy rhythm: Swim with a buddy in a supervised area! Look before you leap! Be cool, follow the rules! Think so you don't sink! Reach or throw, don't go!

Those guidelines are most certainly part of our home-study swimming lesson curriculum.

Miriam was going to the shallow end because she wanted to try jumping into the pool (but didn't want to do it in the deep end). She did pretty well on her first jump but kind of psyched herself out on subsequent jumps. At one point Andrew was counting for her. "One, two, three, jump!" he said, and she gave a little hop on the deck but didn't jump into the pool. She was persistent though and by the time we left she was able to jump in the pool fairly consistently (though we had to give her to the count of five because three wasn't quite long enough for her to prepare emotionally).

Here's a very blurry picture of her first jump:

And this is what her face looked like when she resurfaced:

And here is Rachel attempting a handstand:

Rachel loves clowning around in the water.

Here is Miriam executing a jump which caused her some chastisement. She tried to jump from one side to the other, which is a terrible idea. I'm just glad she didn't get hurt.

We were at the pool with a friend not too long ago and he and Rachel were jumping in the pool together. They're about the same height and were jumping in at 4 feet of water just fine even though they both can barely touch, but when Rachel suggested they try jumping in at 5 feet her friend accepted the challenge with some trepidation. They counted and jumped and Rachel did fine—she's become a relatively good swimmer this summer—but her poor friend chickened out, turned around mid-free fall, grabbed the ledge to stop himself from sinking too far under the water, and grazed his chin on the pool deck on his way down. It wasn't pretty.

He's okay, but it wasn't a good idea. Neither was Miriam's. We moved her farther from the corner and let her continue to practice jumping in—with her floaty, of course (we'll wean her off that eventually).

Here's Rachel resting in the water:

And here's Rachel crashing into Miriam while swimming on her back:

And here she is getting instructions from me to practice something else:

Miriam did eventually give up the floaty—willingly, even—to practice a few things. I've been trying to convince her to try a jellyfish float (where you take a deep breath and just float in the water to feel how your lungs, when full of air, help you to float) but until today she wouldn't try it. Then without any warning she threw off her tube, let go of the wall, and did this in the water:

Then she popped back out of the water and shouted, "I DID A JELLYFISH FLOAT!"

She was so proud and showed me how she did it over and over again.

She "swam" out to Andrew (an awkward sequence involving mostly hopping and thrashing) from the wall, all on her own accord:

And then Benjamin commanded me to get back in the pool, so I did.

Miriam did a bit of swimming between me and Andrew (we'd give her a good strong push and she'd glide/flounder between us) and we also practiced back floats. She was able to hold a back float for three seconds all on her own—without me holding her and without her precious floaty—though I did let her count the seconds by herself and she counted them as fast as she could, "ONETWOTHREE!" before flipping over and latching herself around my neck.

I finished up the evening with a few laps of butterfly. I haven't done the butterfly in forever. My timing is off and my form's pretty sloppy but it was still fun to get a few laps in, so good that I almost considered an early morning swim to start my day (when the pool would be relatively empty of roughhousing neighbourhood children (does saying that officially make me an old, grumpy person?)) but then I thought about how cold the pool would be in the morning and quickly reconsidered. We'll stick with daytime/evening swims.

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