Monday, October 29, 2012

Swimming Lessons

Lachie and his mate Josh in swim nappies
As soon as I learned that the Cook and Philip Pool offers lessons to babies as young as four months, I knew I had to enrol my little nipper. We've gone four times now and it's fantastic. The instructors are knowledgeable and patient: not pushing you to dunk your baby under the water until you're both ready and working up to every skill with clever baby steps.

Of course a lesson for a four month old is really a lesson for the parent and that's fine by me. I'm happy to learn more about how to hold Lachie in the pool and other water safety tips. I didn't expect a lot more from the class; I just wanted to have something fun for us to do together that gets him better acquainted with water.

I realized though that swimming lessons connotes actually learning how to swim when I told my brother, 'Lachie totally killed it at swim class today.' He said something to the effect of, 'yeah? Is he learning how to kick and paddle?' I clarified that my definition of 'killed it' actually meant: did not cry during the half hour lesson.

Not crying may not seem like an accomplishment, but on day one, when all the mums and dads were ready with cameras, most of the babies cried and some had to be taken out of the water. This is understandable because there are only short windows of time during which infants are not too tired or too hungry to do anything else. They certainly weren't crying because of the water temperature, though. They keep the hydro pool heated to a bath-like 33C.

Getting ready to go under the tunnel
Lachie, though, has yet to have a poolside meltdown and I'm proud of him for that. I give most of the credit to his Swimava, an inflatable tube that goes around Lachie's neck, allowing his whole body minus his head to be submerged in the water (and allowing me to have two free hands during bath time). It looks odd, but it's fun and I suspect it makes Lachlan feel very free. He can't yet roll or crawl or walk obviously so kicking in the water is the only means for him to direct his own body.

Most of the time when we get into the pool, Lachie starts splashing right away. He becomes very focused on the water and often doesn't look at me or use his voice. I think he becomes so distracted by the pool environment and the stimulation of the water that he forgets everything else. I hope that in the coming months he'll laugh and smile in the pool when he's more comfortable.

Lachie's mate Mattia is on the left with his papa
Getting dry and then rinsing off and dressing Lachie and myself after the lesson is a juggling act. I try to make sure that he doesn't scoot off the bench or scream the place down when I dress him. Lachie is exhausted at the end of our half hour lesson and ten minutes of getting ready and so am I. He has his best morning nap of the week (up to 1.5 hours) afterwards and that alone makes swim class worthwhile.