Amy started swimming with Puddle Ducks shortly before her second birthday when she joined Kickers – she was frightened and cried a lot in those first lessons clinging to me like a little limpet but we worked through it and with the help of the team at Puddle Ducks (and especially her teacher Claire), she slowly but surely developed in confidence.
When the time came for Amy to move up to Swim Academy I won’t deny being really nervous. If nothing else, the timing of her lessons worried me – we’d gone from a Monday morning when she was bright and fresh to a Thursday tea time at the end of a week of full mornings at Nursery and I wasn’t convinced she’d cope. In the initial weeks and months she would fall asleep in the car on the way to Aqua Nuture which seemed to just top her up enough to get her through her lesson and as time went by she has been more and more able to cope. Now, even though she’s in full time school, she almost never falls asleep on the way to her class.
But really my biggest concern was how Amy would cope in her new “big girl” swimming lessons – ones which saw her getting into the pool without me first time and lots of new skills to learn. I should’t have worried – Amy took to her Swim Academy lessons like a Puddle Duck to water . . .
Because Swim Academy is the big sister of Puddle Ducks, it doesn’t feel like such a big change. Amy’s teacher stayed the same and whilst we moved to a new pool it was one she was familiar with. The struture of the lessons is broadly the same, though with a whole lot less singing. The skills Amy had been learning for the two years prior to moving up to Swim Academy were there, just levelled up.
Early November saw Amy’s one year anniversary with Swim Academy and she celebrated it by achieving her 5m badge just before October half term – 5 whole metres across the pool unaided. Of course I cried. She followed this up the next week with 3m on her back, fulfilling the criteria for Swim Academy Stage 1 and securing her place in Stage 2. It has been amazing to see her become so confident & strong in the water over the last year. When she first moved up to Swim Academy she was quiet and nervous (and in a class of quite boisterous boys who liked a good splash!) but eventually she learned to hold her own and shortly before she moved up I realised that she was actually one of the most confident children in her class. That was a bit of a revelation for me.
Of course now she’s the new girl in the class again & she has a long way to go. The skills, as you’d expect, have ramped up a gear but Amy has got her head down (quite literally now as she’s expected to swim head-down the majority of the time) and she’s really giving everything a good go. Swimming is fun for her now.
I love that everything taught during a Puddle Ducks or Swim Academy lesson is a building block – week on week, skill on skill – a clear step (or stroke perhaps) on the swimming journey. You can see exactly what skills are being built towards at all times for example, now that Amy is in Stage 2 there is an expectation for her to swim head down at all times now and roll onto her back to breathe. This might sound a little strange until you see it in action. I can see Amy is being taught a rhythm, she’s being taught how and when to take her head out of the water to breathe – you can see that over time she will learn to breath to one side and then put her head back in (as opposed to her older siblings who just lift their face out and cause their bums to sink!)
The structure of Swim Academy lessons allows for a constant, steady push to the next level – always at the individual child’s pace but always moving forward. I can see the progress in Amy’s swimming every single week and I can’t thank Claire and Kirsty enough for that! (Amy thanks them with a big cuddle at the end of every lesson and I think that says it all really!)
*Amy swims with Swim Academy free of charge for the purposes of review. All thoughts and opinions remain our own*