Summer in Arizona consists of swimming, swimming and more swimming. My kids live in the pool. What’s funny is when we moved into this house, we had a 6-year-old, 3-year-old and a baby – none of which could swim – and we have a pool in our backyard. It was a little scary and I quickly enrolled my kids in swim lessons to get them swimming as quickly as possible.
With most of the kids, we’ve started lessons around two years old. The first year they don’t gain much, but they do get comfortable being in the water. By the time they were three or four they were jumping off the diving board and swimming to the edge of the pool. Our biggest defense to an accident is teaching kids to swim young, which seems to be the standard in this area.
With Briggs being our youngest, it would be easy to be distracted, and yet I’ve been hyper aware of him near any pool. Many times, we wouldn’t even go outside by the pool, he would be locked inside with me. This summer we started lessons – he was 2 years and 2 months when we started. I didn’t have high hopes, especially considering he cried through the first 15 of his 16 lessons (so did his little swim buddies, he was in good company). I mean he cried the whole lesson. Yet, the swim teacher pointed out how well he was moving in the water. She told us the minute he gets over crying in the water, he’ll be able to swim. I had my doubts. My doubts were doubled when we left for several weeks and he didn’t see a pool for over a month.
When we returned from our summer roadtrip I got in the pool with him every single day. We worked on the drills the swim teacher had showed me. And he cried the whole time, but he was doing it. And then less than a week later something clicked. It was no longer a chore and suddenly there were no tears. It was the strangest thing. He wanted to jump off the edge over and over again. He got it and he was so proud of himself. He wanted to show Hallie and Hunter and Daddy. He wanted everyone to see him and cheer him on. And we did because I was so excited for another water safe kid. Since then he’s become quite the little fish.
We’ll work for years to make him a strong swimmer but being able to jump off the diving board and swimming to the side gives some comfort. We still have to watch him like a hawk. He’s not allowed to swim with siblings yet, he doesn’t get to play with floatable toys in the pool and we still have to correct him when he picks up bad habits. But if he was reaching for a toy and fell in – he could get to the edge, which offers some peach of mind – but doesn’t take away being hyper aware of him near water.
He could swim this for hours – he’s our youngest swimmer, he beat Hunter by a couple months. And next year, he’ll go back in lessons and learn some more.
As a sidenote: swimming lessons in Arizona are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Hallie started lessons in Wisconsin and after a year and a half, she was able to doggie paddle…kind of. And then we moved here and we’ve used several teachers and they all teach a similar method – but they teach for survival. I remember Hunter’s first lesson when they guided him down to the bottom of the pool and through a ring and then let him float back up. His first lesson! I wanted to grab him out of the pool! Hallie didn’t get her face wet until she passed three levels!!
Yes, kids cry and yet no teacher is phased by it – they do what it takes to get kids swimming in the shortest amount of time and after that they work on building strong swimmers. The process is unique – and yet it works. I think why it works so well is many kids have backyard access to a pool – so they have lessons and then they get to go play in their own pool – their exposure to water is usually much higher which yields faster results.