For the last couple years I've wanted to get my girls into swimming lessons. I did not know where to go, who to call or who to ask. Finally, I found out that there was a pool in a town not too far from me and also an indoor pool at a public school where they offered lessons. Actually my husband and his nieces and nephew took lessons at that school. I had tried unsuccessfully last year to get a hold of the people in charge of the lessons near me and by the time I found the info for the public school pool it was all too late. So I had to wait.
I was on my toes this year and checked websites, newspapers and anything I could get my hands on to find out about swimming lessons. Finally, I found an open signup day for the general public at the indoor pool and just went for it. It's a 35 minute drive from home and I assumed that I'd be doing the drive 2 to 3 times a week for a month or two. Well, I was wrong.
First of all the sign up took WAY longer than I expected. The day and time coincided with a regional finals track meet and the parking lot was completely full and spilling out onto the road in front of the school. We were there early but it took us 15 minutes to find a parking space. When we finally found our way into the pool area the line of people was down the hall and out the door about 10 people deep. To my surprise the line didn't move for a good 25 minutes. Thankfully, some local people we knew were there with their kids too and we were able to visit and keep ourselves occupied while we waited. At the time I was feeling pretty bad that my oldest, Cookie, is now 7 and this was the first time she was going to have swimming lessons. After talking to the other two ladies their children are about the same age and also in lessons for the first time. Not that it makes it right we waited so long, but at least I wasn't the only one who hesitated :).
An hour and fifteen minutes later my kids were in the second session of pre-beginner and beginner lessons. I was a little disappointed that we couldn't get into the first two week session. An Amish family got 10 of their children into the first session of beginner swimming and I really didn't want to split my girls up (nor drive back and forth for 4 weeks instead of 2). Bonbon, my youngest, was anxious to go get her swimsuit and go swimming RIGHT NOW! The next week was quite interesting trying to explain to her it would be three weeks before she could go swim. At least she forgot about it and stopped nagging me for the two weeks before the lessons. Thank goodness for gardening and nice weather to keep them occupied outdoors.
Finally came the first week of lessons. I was worried about how Cookie and BonBon would do. There was a fair amount of crying, screaming and wailing in the pre-beginner class but thankfully none came from my girls. Cookie enjoyed her class and got to practice holding her breath after they watched a safety video. Bonbon got to play and take big steps backwards and forwards in the baby pool.
Day two was a whole different story. Instead of coming out smiling like day one BonBon came out of class in tears. She got water up her nose when she dunked her head under the water. Cookie was excited as ever and just kept trying her best. I noticed from the get go that Cookie had a helper practically dedicated only to her because she had a hard time floating. She's so skinny there isn't much there to help her float. Little trooper that she is she just kept right on going - no fear, no excuses.
Day three the battle began first thing in the morning. BonBon didn't want to get out of bed. She didn't want to eat breakfast. She just didn't want to go. Period. As hard as it was to see her stressed and struggling I had to lay down the law and tell her that she can't give up so easily. I had to tell her that she can't get better if she doesn't try and that her teachers are there to help her and won't let anything bad happen to her. She wasn't happy. Cookie on the other hand was raring to go. We got 10 minutes into class when BonBon started crying and said she had to go to the bathroom. She did actually have to go but at the same time she made sure to let me know that she was scared to go back out. So I had to talk to her again about trying, and learning and how she didn't give up trying when she learned to walk and talk and how she would have so much more fun if she just learned to relax. We said a little prayer and she went back out. By the end of the class she was all smiles and happy and had fun even when they dunked her head in the three foot pool.
By day four I was hopeful there would be no early morning drama since we practiced blowing bubbles in the bathtub the night before. I was wrong. Again BonBon was scared and didn't want to go. It was almost an exact repeat of day 3 :(. At least she did finish class again smiling. Cookie was happy to at least try to float on her belly and on her back and do the chicken-eagle-snake and big arm circles.
Friday of the first week was happy and drama free. BonBon learned not to freak out when she got water up her nose and to calm down and think carefully about what she needed to do when she put her face under the water - blow out not suck in. Cookie was trying to swim under water and practice her big arm pulls although I've got to say the poor thing looks like she's drowning when she "swims".
The next week went off without a hitch. Both girls were happy to go to lessons every day and excited to learn more and show how well they could do. They both practiced using life saving tools and went off the diving board. To my surprise Cookie only did it once. BonBon went off the board twice. She had to be dropped because she was scared to jump, but she did good trying to swim with her face in the water all the way to the ladder (with a little help of course).
At the end of the lesson Friday, BonBon got a little paper medal with Snoopy and a handwritten note from her teachers on the back. My sister-in-law, who's kids also took lessons here thought both would get a certificate since her's did, was surprised that Cookie didn't get a certificate. After Cookie left her instructors side I could tell she wasn't happy, but she wouldn't say why. I was disappointed for her that she didn't get a completion certificate for the course (but I didn't say anything). I thought maybe since they were older they didn't do that anymore.
At lunch she was rather distant and didn't talk much. I figured that she was very tired because she had spent the night at her aunts house and not slept in her own bed with her favorite pillow. Later I found out that she was told she had failed the swimming course and would not be receiving a certificate. It was beyond me why she didn't say anything. I reassured her that I was not upset, but that I wanted to help her do the best she could do. That is what her father and I are there to do. I'm just glad that she enjoyed learning and tried her darndest to do well even when it was painful (water up the nose).
They spent the rest of the afternoon at my sister-in-law's house with a couple of their little friends practicing what they'd learned in the pool. They had so much fun and were completely exhausted. So was I. My throat hurt, my nose was running and by the time we got home I had a fever. I spent the next day in bed. Cookie was under the weather too, but no fever, thank goodness. I'm just so glad that we were able to complete the lessons without anyone getting sick or hurt. We'll definitely be going back next year. Every child should have swimming lessons because you never know when that knowledge could save your life or someone else's.