Today, the man on the Lilypad has taken over the blog about what he really thinks of our baby swimming ...... be kind to him!
6am, 22 years ago and I'm standing on the edge of the Olympic size training pool. I already know the water isn’t heated, I know how icy cold it’s going to be as I plunge in but strangely I welcome it and crave it. This cold water torture on a Saturday morning was not just for fun, I swam competitively for the county. As I think back now to the inspirational mishap that started my journey I am pleased that my little princess didn’t decide to throw herself into the local duck pond on a freezing January day, instead as a family we wanted a much more gentle introduction to learning to swim, something we found with the amazing waterbabies.
Most people have seen the images of babies swimming unaided under water, eyes open and totally at home but I have to admit I wasn’t sure about plunging her under the water and just hoping instinct kicks in and she holds her breath! In the early stages my wife took the lead in the pool, allowing me to observe from the side. I was amazed at how comfortable most of the children were and the lessons were nothing like what I had experienced as a child! Singing, splashing, play and a great environment of encouragement all allowed our little one to progress quickly.
Fast forward 3 years and our Sunday mornings are filled with 30 minutes of getting in and out of the pool safely, bubble blowing, ‘tiger arms’, frantic kicking, jumping in, singing, wibble wobbling off giant floats and ultimately one of my proudest moments as a dad, watching my little mermaid complete a 10 metre unaided swim – pink goggle clad face bobbing along with a giant grin on it! Of course its not all plain sailing! We have had a number of lessons that have descended into tears (typically anything involving lying on her back! And typically the ones where its me in the pool!?) but this is always dealt with brilliantly and nothing is forced.
As parents we all want our children to progress and learn new skills as they grow, but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences to see this crucial life skill being developed in a fun and structured environment. Who knows, maybe like my dad I will end up sitting watching a champion swimmer diving in to that same freezing Olympic size pool at 6am in another 10 years time, all inspired not by a dip with the ducks but instead bathing with the water babies!