Today marks the start of a new half term of Swim Academy lessons for Amy. Having moved up to her “big girl’s swimming lessons” back in November, we’re now a full term in and it’s time for an update!
For those of you who don’t know, Swim Academy is the next level, ‘all grown up and swimming by yourself’ big sister of Puddle Ducks. This means that Amy now gets in the pool by herself whilst I sit on the side (warm and dry) watching her! At first I was really quite nervous as to how she would take to this – she was so used to having me to cling onto, however she’s taken to it like a duck to water . . . (I know, I know, I couldn’t resist!)
Although it’s a big step up from the Puddle Ducks Little Dippers class to Swim Academy – there isn’t suddenly an expectation that your child can swim by themselves! The adult to child ratio in the pool is 1:4 and the sessions feature a mixture of swimming practice where all the children are swimming at once using appropriate supports (eg a woggle under each arm, or a single woggle across the chest depending on the confidence and ability of the individual child) or focused activities where the adults are concentrating on one child at a time while the others wait safely on a step at the wall. You might remember that I wrote quite some time ago about how much waiting around Ben and Chloe seemed to do in their council run swimming lessons, but this really isn’t the case for Amy at Swim Academy. At most she has to wait for three children to take their turn before it’s her go again meaning she has a chance to have a rest but not to get bored or for me to feel like her lesson time is being wasted.
For me, the biggest change is that I’m obviously sat at the side of the pool watching Amy swim from a safe distance, which means I can really see what she’s getting up to – how hard she’s trying (or not) and the progress she is making. I love being able to watch her swimming independently (albeit very slowly) across the pool on her woggle.
Because Amy’s Swim Academy lessons are more grown up than her previous Puddle Ducks sessions, there’s a lot less singing which surprisingly hasn’t bothered her. She soon got used to the new routines, structures and instructions. Swim Academy lessons are less about games and confidence boosting and more about learning to swim properly – getting the breathing right, learning proper strokes (eg Amy has started to learn how to move her legs for breast stroke). That’s not to say her lessons aren’t fun – she clearly has a whale of a time but as an observer I can see how things have stepped up and where they’re going – which is great!
Obviously Amy has good weeks and bad weeks – there have been lessons where she’s cried and clung to Claire or Kirsty for dear life and weeks where she has astounded us by happily swimming with her face in the water and blowing bubbles or even attempting a surface dive. One of things I’ve noticed is that now her lesson is on a Thursday tea time (as opposed to a Monday morning) she’s more susceptible to being really tired – on those days where she’s worn out, her lesson is a bit of a nightmare so to combat that I’ve insisted she has a sleep on a Thursday afternoon when she gets in from Nursery. A couple of hours in bed and a good snack before we set off to her lesson makes a world of difference to her performance. Over the last couple of years of swimming lessons it has been really clear that the timing of Amy’s lesson is really key and so that’s something worth bearing in mind if your own child isn’t entirely enthused by their swimming lessons!
*Amy swims with Puddle Ducks Greater Manchester free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*