As you know Amy has been swimming with Puddle Ducks and, more recently Swim Academy for nearly three years now. In that time she has blossomed from a not quite 2yr old who was really unsettled by the water and clung to her Mummy for dear life to an almost 5yr old who happily gets into the pool without me for her Swim Academy lessons each week. Watching her confidence grow has been amazing – it hasn’t been an easy journey at times, in fact I there were points where I questioned if Amy would ever actually choose to put her face under the water. There’s been times where it felt like we were taking one step forward and two steps back and then other times where the leaps forward have been sudden and huge – learning to swim has been a huge journey for our little girl, a journey which is of course by no means complete.
Swimming for pleasure as a family has not really been something we’ve done before – for a long time this was down to ratios – many pools insist on one adult per child for under 5s which meant it just wasn’t possible for us, in fact when we went to Splash Landings a few years back we had to take friends so we would be allowed in! Of course the fact that Amy didn’t especially love swimming meant that it wasn’t really worth the hassle either – we tended to feel that we were doing our duty in sending everyone to swimming lessons (the big two have been having local council swimming lessons since they were 3yrs old) but swimming for fun wasn’t really fun!
In the last 6 months or so this has completely changed. Suddenly we are loving swimming as a family. This is down to a number of factors – Ben has stopped his council lessons to join a local swimming club and has flourished, Chloe has grown in confidence and now spends as much time under the water as she does on top (which reminds me very much of myself as a child) but the most dramatic change has been in Amy. Something has clicked. She has suddenly realised that she can actually swim, that if she goes under water nothing bad will happen, that jumping in is a lot of fun!! Having been on holiday twice this year she has spent a lot of time in the pool – wooshing down the slides at Eurocamp or playing in the pools all day long at Holiday Village Tenerife.
Prior to going on holiday at May half term I spoke to Amy’s Swim Academy teacher, Claire, about how best to manage her in the pool. Obviously my main priority was to keep her safe but I also had no desire to stick armbands on her when she has never used them in her Puddle Ducks or Swim Academy lessons. Claire suggested the best thing we could do was take her a “woggle” as this is what she uses for swimming in class. In the end we came to a bit of a compromise – when she was going on the slides she wore her Konfidence jacket with a few of the floats taken out as this meant that we knew she had a bit of a helping hand if she slipped into the pool on the way. When she was swimming in the pool with us she took her jacket off and used her woggle. Of course she had no idea that the whole time she was playing about in the pool on her woggle she was actually practising her swimming! Prior to our holiday in May, Amy would kick her legs in her lesson and go nowhere fast, now all of a sudden she was actually moving across the pool!
By the time our holiday in Tenerife came round, I felt more confident in managing Amy in the swimming pool in a way that wouldn’t set back all her hard work with Claire and we spent most of our week’s holiday in the pool. Amy’s confidence literally exploded and she suddenly realised that she could actually “swim” (of a fashion!!) without her woggle – we practised pushing off from the wall with her head down, we practised jumping in and swimming back to the wall, we practised floating . . . and whilst the head down swims are going to take some time, we suddenly had a girl who really didn’t mind going underwater at all, a little girl who was happy to jump into the pool and make the biggest splash, a little girl who wanted her Daddy to throw her into the water so that she was dunked under . . .
Amy was so excited to get back to her Swim Academy lessons and show Claire that she could swim . . . so much so that she got a bit giddy in her next lesson and actually didn’t show off what she could do at all! We are lucky that our Swim Academy lessons at Aqua Nurture continue over the summer holidays now (previously we’ve had a long break each summer) so we’ve been able to keep up with our swimming routine and make the most of Amy’s new found confidence. And, believe it or not, we’ve actually been swimming for fun twice in the last week!
I still can’t actually believe the difference the last two and a half terms of Swim Academy lessons have made to Amy – they’ve continued to build on all the work she did in her Puddle Ducks lessons but now that I’m not in the water there with her, she’s finally realised she can do it herself! I can’t wait to see what comes next!
*Amy swims with Swim Academy free of charge for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions remain our own*