Swimming classes have been hard work for N. From starting at 4 months old, then changing from baby and toddler swimming to normal swimming lessons. It took him 6 years to achieve his 10 metre badge without a float aid. I always thought swimming isn’t really his thing. But maybe it is. He’s just been moved into stage 6 after just two terms in stage 5.
N’s swim instructor is a very technical teacher. She aims to get them swimming really well technically, and won’t move them up until she knows they’ll cope in the next class. Until she is happy with them meeting her technical criteria. They vaguely follow ASA levels but her classes, generally work at a higher level of expectation than just the basic levels they have to hit to get the badge.
For stage 5 it’s a little different. Previous stages it was obvious the kids were working well ahead of that stage requirement, and often ahead of the next stage too in distance and technique. But with stage 5, having looked at the level requirements, I knew there were quite a few things that N can’t really do. They’ve not even touched some since he’s been in this stage 5 class. Handstands anyone? His somersault is terrible as well.
But the distance and technique he’s fine on. They might only state they need to swim 10 metres with good technique, but before Easter after only a term of being in the stage, N was told just get in and swim. For the whole lesson, lengths without stopping. He swam 400 metres. Only 3 lengths front crawl, and she let him off doing breast stroke. The rest in backstroke. It was painful at the end, but amazing to see how far he could actually swim.
On the last session of term (the fun swim) the teacher surprised me by saying N was ready to move up to stage 6. I was surprised but so pleased at how well he’s progressed. She’s really happy with him too. Having only had 3 or 4 of them in the lesson, with them all being at a good standard, it meant she was able to give them lots of individual attention, bringing them on faster. But she was especially happy with N given he takes instruction well, and works hard to make the changes.
Given stage 6 is length swimming, I think it will be a bit of a shock for N. They only usually have 3/4 of a length for their swim class but do swim a lot. A couple of the stronger swimmers from stage 6 have moved up, and when I booked him into the next class, there were only 6 out of the usual 10 in the class who’d already booked. So hopefully he’ll get up to speed and strength quickly. He’ll look so small against them as the class he’s moving into are either 1-2 school years ahead of him, and much taller.
We did have to do a bit of negotiation. When N was younger and didn’t like swimming so much, we agreed that he could finish lessons once he was a good level 5 swimmer. But that came earlier than expected and I don’t really want him to stop quite yet.
The issue is that swimming clashes with shoot days in the winter. N likes to go out beating, and moving to the next swimming class means he’ll be 30 minutes later. He’ll miss break time at the shoots – meaning he’ll miss the hotdogs and cake. And we’ll have to find where they’ve got to after we get back from swimming. I’ve looked at moving to a weekday swimming class, but they’re not late enough for us to get to.
So a Saturday morning later time it is. I’ve agreed that while he has to go to all the swimming lessons up to December, whether it’s shooting or not, into January and February, shoot days will take priority. Hopefully he’ll only miss 3 lessons. And on the winter term, he’ll have to just join the shoot when he can.
N’s is really looking forward to moving up. It makes him feel like he’s as good at swimming as his cousins who all stopped at level 6 or 7. And he can now say to school friends he’s in level 6 where some of them have been there for a while, despite him thinking he’s a better swimmer than them at school swimming lessons. This is why you just can’t compare across swimming instructors – all swim schools use different methods of moving people up stages. With some like our teacher focusing on progressing ahead of the stage requirements and technique, vs other instructors who move up based on the criteria asked for each badge when their swimmers don’t have the technique.
As N will only have another half year left of swimming lessons with school – we’re not sure if it’s from September or February yet, these non school lessons will still be important in increasing his stamina and confidence.
How do your children’s swimming lessons work with moving them up?