Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Swim Lessons

Week three: Refused to get into the water at all. 
(Not a good morning for her even before we arrived.)
Received her candy bribe since she did, at least, sit there for the whole lesson. Sigh.
Week two: Gamely smiling with always-jovial Chester, who seems to truly love his work
Thanks Blogger for not allowing me any control over the order of my photos or where they fall in relation to the text)!

So partly on the encouragement of some loyal blog readers but mostly because Calliope was loving the water so much this summer -- and showing rapid progress with her comfort in the water -- I decided to sign her up for swim lessons. She really seemed ready. She was independently bobbing up and down in the water, blowing bubbles, "walking" in the shallows on her hands while kicking her feet. It seemed like she was on the brink of learning to actually swim, at least a little bit.

Well. Swim lessons have not been an unmitigated success, to put it mildly. This last week, I counted nine children in her class, along with two instructors. Most of the other children look to be 2 years older and at least ten pounds heavier than her. And certainly a lot more confident. She never volunteers to go first. And she spends a lot of time clinging to the side of the pool (where they wait their turns -- they were floation belts), looking beseechingly at me. She only responds well to the head instructor of her group, and half of her turn practicing a given skill is just devoted to focusing on what the teacher said.

The third week she refused to get in the water at all. This week she did get in, though she wanted to get out a couple of times. I've resorted to bribery to get her to participate. But all she has to do to earn her candy is sit on the side and listen, so the fact that she got in the water at all was a victory. And her teacher coaxed her back in a couple more times after some breaks of sitting on the side.

But even when she does participate, with all that time spent sitting plus the limited comprehension of a three year old in turning verbal instructions into bodily movements (especially after all that time waiting), I just wonder if it's worth it. I worry that this might be killing her love of the water. And that she might be better off exploring at her own pace. Kind of like literacy (and all the great advice I got here about it)!

I researched private and semi-private swim lessons but they don't fit in our schedule right now, unfortunately.

The director of the acquatics program, a actual grown up, called me last week and we had a long chat and she had some specific ideas to help. Specifically, one, go to Family Swim to practice and reinforce what Calliope learns in swim lessons. And two, she would talk to her (really great, in most respects) teacher, Chester, to ask him to a) sometimes go first, and b) keep her and the other little ones engaged even when they are waiting their turn.

This past Saturday was a bit better. I saw some smiles on her face as she practiced with Chester, which made my heart glad. Unfortunately, she cried during her entire turn with the female assistant -- after said assistant pried my girl's fingers off the edge of the pool as she wailed -- which made my heart hurt.

The next day, I took both Calliope and her six year old friend Annabelle to the pool for Family Swim. Skipping naptime, intentionally, for the first time. Calliope (and Annabelle) loved it. We didn't bother with the flotation belt that she is forced to wear during lessons -- it's not like she trusts the thing, anyway. She jumped (holding my fingers) off the wall into the water over and over and over again. She kicked her little heart out and gaily did lots of "ice cream scooping," aka practicing the arms for the crawl stroke. Total joy. Despite the shivering.

As for me, my pregnant n*pples were on fire -- they are like my cold weather indicator -- and not in a good way. Serious pain. But all for a good cause.

We will see if the next (and last) swim lesson is any better as a result of doing our homework. And after that, no more serious lessons for a while. We might try a dance class with Calliope's best friend, but apparently it's very "developmentally appropriate" and fun. And we can try a drop-in class to make sure it's a good fit. And going with her friend probably guarantees she will relax and enjoy it. But either way, I will try to get my own ideas of what my preschooler "should" be doing out of the way.

Week two
Calliope's version of a flutter kick on her back looks more like 
a ?synchronized swimming move

Week six -- she's smiling! 

Week one: My little peanut amongst her much larger classmates (the other little girl promptly switched classes)

Week six and so happy to be getting attention from Chester... but is she actually any closer to real swimming?


  1. It looks like things are going a bit better at her swim lessons several weeks in, hopefully that will continue!

    Ummm, and what is it about pregnancy and nipples! Today the air started blowing in my classroom and I had to cross my arms in front of my chest so as not to poke anyone's eyes out!

  2. I bet it was overwhelming for C to be dealing with the water & all the other excitement but she's obviously doing very well! Too bad your pool is so cold. Ours has a "kids" pool that is kept very warm for kids & babies, much more comfortable than the big pool tho understandably over crowded

  3. Sounds like she really enjoys it when she goes just with you - maybe her fear is about being with other adults and away from you, rather than of the water. I didn't learn to swim until I was 10, so I think any kid who learns younger than that is doing great! She is brave to go in with those older kids.