Monday, May 01, 2023

Polar Plunge (Georgia Style)

It's really been a relatively mild spring for us. While we're usually hankering for the pool by May, this year our April has felt uncommonly cold. Today we were only in the 60°s, but the kids begged to go to the opening of the pool season, so we headed out there for a "polar plunge." It was a memorable FHE activity (that Rachel missed because she went driving with Grandpa, who was heading out to teach some temple prep lessons). Only Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander really wanted to get in. The rest of us just stayed in our street clothes (though I did pack swimming suits for me and Phoebe, just in case we changed our minds).

Benjamin was the first to jump in. He was very happy that the diving board was back up (it was broken for most of last year). Zoë was next to go off the diving board. Benjamin really swam just fine, despite the shock of the water, but Zoë was struggling a bit to remember how to swim, with it being her first time back in the pool and having it be rather chilly.

So I told Alexander that he shouldn't jump into the deep end. He may have been playing in the deep end at the close of last swimming season, but I didn't want him jumping in the very first thing this swimming season. He reluctantly moved over to the 4 ft area, which is still well over his head, and climbed up on the diving block (which I still wasn't sure about). 

In Andrew's defense, he asked Benjamin to stay nearby so he could help Alexander. Unfortunately, he didn't notice that Benjamin did not register this information and swam with Zoë to the shallow end. And evidently Andrew didn't register this information because he pushed Alexander in anyway. 

It's true that I'm filming, but I wasn't expecting Alexander to go in at this point. I thought he was going to wait for help to be nearby and I didn't think Andrew would push him in. You can hear me squeak out, "HONEY!" as Andrew is giving Alexander a gentle shove off the diving block. 

Which was a whole lot nicer than I was last year. I mean, last year when we were at the pool for one of the very first times, Andrew did a similar thing, only (1) it was sunny, so (2) he was in a swim suit, too, and (3) I was in the shallow end with Phoebe, so when I saw Alexander go in and start floundering, I hollered across the pool, "You're going to have to help him! He doesn't remember how to swim from last year! QUICK!"

And then I muttered under my breath, "Ya moron. Oi," (because sometimes I'm not particularly kind or patient), and this mom I hang out at the pool with sometimes (who has a son Alexander's age) started cackling.

"Isn't that just how husbands are sometimes?" she laughed.


Not always. But sometimes. 

Anyway, swimming is just something that you have to...refresh...every year, for a few years, before it begins to feel natural enough that you don't panic when you hit the water. My kids love the water, but they haven't been in a pool since September, so it's been a while. I suppose it would help if we ever took them swimming indoors. But...we don't often do that.

I tried to instruct him to turn onto his back, but he wouldn't. 

I tried to get him to reach for my hand, but he wouldn't. 

So (since he's just a little guy and because I know I can touch the bottom of the pool here and because I have a bit of lifesaving training) I went in after him—just kicked off my shoes, stripped off my sweater, dropped my phone and...hopped fluid movement.

Note that this rescue would not have been safe in the deep end (at least...not without a floatation device) because drowners are unpredictably powerful, which is part of the reason I didn't want him jumping in the deep end in the first place (I wasn't prepared to jump into the deep end after him).

As it turns out, the water wasn't that cold after all—and I was already wet—so I changed into my swimsuit. Phoebe (whose face is looking much better today) was—predictably—very excited about the pool, so we changed her into her swimsuit as well.

Here we are, ready to take the plunge:

Or, you know, sit on the stairs (because while the water wasn't that cold, it also wasn't that warm):

One of her favourite things to do is stand on a high surface and leap off, hoping someone will catch her (whether or not anyone is actually ready to do so), so naturally she thought jumping off the wall was a very good game.

She had a good time for the short time that she stayed in the pool.  

I think we stayed for twenty minutes, total, which was long enough! Here are my poor freezing children getting ready to head home (aided by a non-freezing Miriam and their non-freezing father):

Now, I will throw in the caveat here that this wasn't really a polar plunge. It just felt like one because we're in the south and we think that pool water—like our ocean water—should feel like bath water. But I grew up in Canada and my swim team trained outdoors and my mom didn't feel (very) bad at all about making me swim every day even when I was cold and jittery because it was not warm.

Here you can see that in Vancouver in July and August, the average high is 72°F:

And here you can see that in Atlanta in April the average high is 73°F:

So the pool was just as warm as a pool in Canadian summer, which is to say that it wasn't entirely pleasant (I understand that, since it was my daily truth as a child and because I went into the pool fully clothed today), but it also wasn't a polar plunge. It was just...fine. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the kids ask to go to the pool again tomorrow.

My kids and I like water so much that if this was the only temperature the world had to offer us, we would suck it up and go swimming, anyway. But we're still looking forward to some warmer pool weather because...I just like feeling warmer when I swim.

We went home, changed into warm pyjamas, and had hot chocolate/hot apple cider/herbal tea (it was a choose-your-own-adventure evening) while we played a round of scripture-nary (like pictionary but religiously themed and one of the kids' favourite last-minute lesson plans for FHE).

Anyway, here's Alexander feeling chilly:

And here's Zoë and Benjamin feeling chilly:

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