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About October time last year we thought that it would be a good idea for our 4 year old son, Adam, to start swimming lessons. (he is now 5)
Now, I myself am a qualified swimming instructor, but there is no way that I would want to teach Adam myself. You know what kids are like in these situations they will listen to others better than their parents.
We had a choice of two local pools that offered swimming schemes to little tiddlers (and not so little tiddlers). I eventually chose the local Sports Centre for Able and Disabled children.
I started by checking with other mums and dads who sent their littlies swimming to see what they had to say about them. This particular centre shone out to me. It had a glowing report on all accounts.
The scheme that they follow I think is a national scheme. The first classes are for babies and they have to be accompanied by an adult. They then progress to ducklings (this makes them get a bit more confident) and then on to tadpoles, froglets, frogs etc etc. There are about 12 stages altogether.
For Adam's age, he's in tadpoles. The lessons run in 11 week courses and cost £28.05 which equates to just £2.55 for each half hour session. You can get this even cheaper with a passport to leisure, but we don't qualify. This in my book is excellent as when I took lessons as a child it was nearly £2 per session.
The first time he went he was very nervous and didn't even want to dangle a toe. The classes are small, no more than 10 so they get lots of help and attention. The instructors are in the water with them too which seems to help their confidence.
Megan tried to coax him into the water, but in the end he was happy to play with the water toys at the side of the pool.
When I took him the next week, again he wanted to play and Megan let him, trying on a couple of occasions to piggy back him into the water. When I came to get him dressed, Megan told me that at the end of the lesson he was sitting with his feet in the pool and splashing his legs with water. She said to let him stay as getting their confidence is what is most important at that age. Well, by the end of the 4th lesson that morning he was zooming around the pool on a float and blowing bubbles with his mouth in the water. He was really pleased at his little achievement.
The next lesson he would let Megan take him into the pool and with his "sausage" the long sausage shaped float was wiggling his way around the pool.
He has now just finished his first 11 week course and in that time, he has overcome much of his fear of water, blows bubbles in the water, does a star float, swims on his back, can get himself into the pool without the use of steps and has completed his 5 metres with water wings on (without putting his feet down) AND . . . . WAIT FOR IT!!! ***jumps into the pool, going underwater and swims on a little way***.
He is having the time of his life and loves his lessons. We are so proud of what he has achieved in such a short space of time. He is immensly proud of his 5 metre badge and certificate and took them into school to show his teacher. She even told the rest of the school in their well done assembly.
Swimming at this stage isn't about stroke technique and distances, but of water safety, gaining confidence and having fun.
He is working his way towards Water Skills One. He's a fair way off yet, but is making progress and enjoying himself. My only regret is that I didn't send him sooner, I should have started him earlier in the ducklings class.
hello :) Im a swimming teacher too and i agree with what you say! Congrats on the progress! xx
sue.51 24.07.2002 20:44
I think swimming should be compulsory for all children from as early as possible, I am still horrified at the amount of adults that can't swim, a friend recently nearly drowned on a water ride on holiday because they didn't check the depth of the pool they were going into before using the ride, if they could have swum it wouldn't have been a problem, apart from anything else, I can think of few more enjoyable ways to get fit.
timmyotoole 21.04.2002 18:10
I'm a pretty naf swimmer myself but this seems like an excellent scheme to get the kiddies the kinda confidence I never had! An interesting read, cheers, Timmy.