Mama OWL Blog: Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

In my opinion, swimming is a necessary life skill. Life is literally sink or swim. If for whatever reason one of my children ended up in the river, sea, lake... wherever, I would want them to have the ability to give themselves a fighting chance at survival before help arrived. Outdoor swimming is very different to pool swimming I realise, however the ability to swim and to be water confident would of course be beneficial in any of those situations.

I'd not bothered with swimming lessons for my eldest two kids, we just sort of threw them in and let them figure it out (not exactly literally, I do not suggest or recommend doing this as you could end up doing a stretch at her Majesty's Pleasure). We took them swimming, and they swam. Now they throw themselves down the rapids at Center Parcs with wild abandon, it has all worked out well (no drownings, or near drownings is 'well' FYI). They are confident, competent swimmers.

With L and H, I have been compelled to enrol them in lessons at the pool (now that there is space) for a few, and quite different, reasons.

H loves the water, I firmly believe the child is part fish. I think he gets it from me, when I was growing up I spent all my time at the local swimming pool and for a while I had nearly convinced myself that I was indeed a mermaid. H would happily spend hours throwing himself off the edge of the pool, launching himself down water slides, diving face first in to the sea if we let him. But H cannot swim, and has absolutely zero concept of danger either. Swimming lessons for him are a must, to teach him water safety as well as the very important ability to swim. He needs the technique, the discipline, the understanding of the water, H definitely needs swimming lessons. He has been to a few now and I can see his form improving, he is paying attention, and he is beginning to grasp the rules. Although, he generally gets told off by Sara at least once per lesson for splashing someone or not listening, these lessons have done him the world of good, and I feel better knowing he has had appropriate teaching (Sara has the patience of a saint) and he is learning & understanding in his swimming group.

L, on the other hand... Not such a fan of the water. The times we have been swimming he has clung on to us for dear life, and just about loses it if water gets in his face, or if he is splashed, or if he was to go under the water unexpectedly. We understand that it is part of his difficulties, he has sensory issues as part of his Autism and while he enjoys water to a certain extent, he can find it unpredictable and doesn't really know how it makes him feel, the sensation of being surrounded by the water, floating, etc. Lessons for him have been an absolute must, to build his confidence and understanding, and to spend more time getting used to those different sensations. In addition to helping with his sensory issues, it will help exercise and strengthen his muscles in his legs.

In just three weeks, L has gone from being overly cautious and a bit timid, to jumping in off the side of the pool, and learning to float flat on his face (wearing his goggles) for a few seconds. He's learning to swim on his back beautifully, going on his front is a bit slower going but that was as expected. Yesterday evening he had a whale of a time and his instructor was very impressed with how much he has come on in just three sessions. We have opted for personal 1:2:1 lessons to start with, to build his confidence. Eventually he may be able to join a group like H but for now this is going brilliantly and we are very happy with his progress.

The Mister and I are very much looking forward to more family swimming experiences with happy, water confident children and I am particularly looking forward to teaching E to swim, and all of us having fun together.

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