After swimming with Water Babies for just under four years, N has done two terms of swimming lessons at the local pool. It was the first time he had been in the pool on his own without me, and I was really worried how he’d take to it.
Thankfully after making me walk him to the teacher at the first lesson so she could put on his float belt, he then sat at the edge of the pool along with the other children in the class, and then got stuck in with most, if not all, of the asks.
After two terms, he’s still only gone down 1 float bar on his belt to 4, but I can see how far he’s come on. I’m hoping that he’ll get a lot stronger over the summer and that’ll help him further in terms of stronger kick and arms into the September term. You forget when comparing them to the others in the class that he’s the youngest by quite a few months (a year in some cases); he looks so much smaller than the other boys. Because they’re in a swim belt, it’s hard to tell how much he has improved, but there’s a lot of skills he has developed from the start he had in Water Babies.
5 things that swimming lessons teach children apart from swimming:
1. Listening and discipline
I think N really benefitted from doing swimming lessons from an early age. He’s always known that he has to listen in the pool, and do what the teacher tells him. At first, just because I told him to. But now he knows it’s for safety reasons and to help him learn. Plus he’ll get told off by the teacher if he doesn’t do what she’s telling them. Hopefully it’ll set him up for school – in his nursery reports they said he’s good at sitting and listening when asked, so I’m pleased he’s got that at an early age.
2. Improving memory
Well, in theory anyway. At the start of our class they’re split into 2 groups and named. Sometimes it’ll be colours, sometimes jewel types, sometimes animals like sharks and dolphins. They then have to remember which group they’re in when they get told to do an activity or swim. N’s probably the worst at remembering, mostly because he gets distracted, or takes so long to swim compared to some of the others that he gets caught up in the other group. Some work to do on that.
Then of course it’s just the week on week technique being drummed into them, quite often without them realising it.
I never thought N would go so easily into the water on his own after all the water wobbles we’d previously been through. But he’s never worried about jumping in, getting in when asked, or refused to do anything. I think having the swim belt helps, and for him it’s definitely needed because he’s still too short to touch the bottom where they swim in the pool (a bonus because it means he has to swim or tread water all lesson while the others can all just about reach the floor and do…too frequently!)
4. A competitive edge
This probably comes from being a bit older as well, but now if there’s a mention of a race, you can see him trying harder, and knowing what it means to win. At the moment, he’d be unlikely to win unless they’re swimming as a three or two across a woggle, and then it’s a sense of achievement as the group manage to swim in line together. But I’m pleased that he’s now seeing a race as something to try and compete in.
5. Breadth of learning in terms and technique
By having a new swimming teacher and a new way of learning means that N has doubled his vocabulary when it comes to swimming. Float types quite often have a different name with his current teacher (star float is now star fish, and mushroom float can be a tuck float etc), and learning different techniques means he can experiment with the different methods that work well for him.
The one downside to him swimming independently in lessons now, is that there’s more danger of him dreaming and being distracted. I think N’s terrible for being distracted – whether it’s by the lifeguards testing the water at the other end of the pool, or the younger children who have their lessons in the shallow end. Sometimes it’s like he’s out for a ‘Sunday swim’ rather than a lesson. He doesn’t misbehave though which is great, although him not always concentrating means that he probably misses a few instructions sometimes.
Hopefully he’ll soon get a bit stronger, then we can remove another couple of float bars, and then he’ll be confident enough to try swimming without a swim belt. I think it’ll be a while before he moves up a class, but I’m just glad that he loves swimming and takes part in all the class with no moaning and no misbehaving.
Do your children have swimming lessons? What do they get out of it (other than learning to swim?)
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