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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Swim Class

BB had her first swim class today -- actually, it was her very first time in a real swimming pool at all. (Though she will tell you, repeatedly, that we also have a pool in our backyard. It's an inflatable kiddie pool, and she loves it.) I was nervous, but she was very curious and excited about the prospect of going swimming, perhaps first of all because she got to Wear Her Swimsuit! I'm pleased to report that we both enjoyed ourselves very much, and we're looking forward to next week.

The lessons were held in the backyard pool of a friend of ours, L, who is a mom to one of BJ's playgroup pals as well as a 9 month old baby. The instructor is a friend of hers with extensive experience teaching swimming to all ages. I liked him quite a bit: he was gentle, good-humored, and enthusiastic. His own kids (age 2 and 4) joined us in the pool, along with his wife. It's supposed to be a "Mom and Baby" class, and since the other two moms who were joining us weren't able to make it today (L was feeling under the weather, and the other mom had to cancel last minute) it was especially nice to have their company. I think it was really good for BB to see other kids so comfortable in the water.

I'd emailed with the instructor beforehand regarding the fact that I have some issues with fear of water (even though I can swim just fine). I really don't want to pass along those anxieties to my kids. My fears are why we'd not yet done formal swimming lessons with them; we'd hoped to have S take the lead. Some time ago he did do some one-on-one work with BJ at the campus pool, but there just hasn't been time for that sort of thing lately. (By lately I mean within the last year!) So it was becoming apparent that if this was going to happen, I was going to have to suck it up and get in the water with the kids. I dreaded it, to be honest. Not only because of my anxieties about the water itself, but also because it would mean getting into a swimsuit in public -- so when L suggested the swim lessons at her house, I jumped at the opportunity.

(Side note: while the fears are less easily dealt with, I did find a serviceable solution to the swimsuit issue. I never did like women's swimsuits, not even when I looked good in them. Now that I'm a much more generously sized version of that teenage self, the thought of wearing an ordinary swimsuit makes me cringe. So I purchased a pair of men's swim trunks and matched them with the top part of a women's tankini. It sure ain't Sports Illustrated, but it's a fun Hawaiian print on bottom and black up top -- and at least I'm not a hirsute embarrassment to myself or my kids. Honestly, given the conversations I've had with other moms about all this, I'm surprised that other folks haven't already started such a trend. I could give you a feminist analysis of all this, Gentle Reader, but I'll spare you the soapbox.)

L's pool, like many, has a main part, which is somewhat kidney-shaped and of an average size, and attached to that is a circular part that I believe is a whirlpool or hot tub (neither was on while we were there, so I'm not sure). BB wanted nothing to do with "the big pool" when we first arrived, but she made a beeline for "the little pool." In there, she could stand on the shallower part at the edge of the circle, the part that would be used as a seat or stair by adults, and she could circumambulate the entire loop. It also was deep enough for me to stand comfortably in the center, which was a plus. BB began the session full-out in watching mode, merely observing the two other kids and the adults in the water, but in a very short time, she was feeling very comfortable in "the little pool," jumping around on the seat/stair, splashing, and playing with floating toys. I was also feeling pretty good, I'm happy to say. I greatly appreciated the fact that the instructor did not push her to do anything she didn't want to!

Given her inexperience, I was truly amazed at how much BB was willing to do. She had an especially good time letting me "swim" her around to chase and grab some floating "treasure" (plastic colored "jewels") by putting her chest on one of my shoulders and supporting her belly and legs with my arms. She even started some kicking on her own! She didn't want to blow bubbles with the other kids, but soon thereafter she put her own face in the water and made a creditable attempt at bubble-blowing. After being shown how to do it, she managed to get out of the pool by herself several times, using elbows and knees. She did not want to let the instructor pour water over her head (not surprising given the resistance we get when it's time to wash her hair!) and we didn't do any submerging. But near the end of the lesson, she asked me if she could get into the big pool and even started climbing over the low wall All By Herself -- the lure was a big inflatable boat in the main part of the pool, in which she wanted to ride around. Which she did, much to her delight. At the end of the lesson, she didn't want to get out of the water!

Happily, since it was our friend's pool, we were able to hang around a little longer and play in the water. But lunchtime was approaching, and nap comes soon thereafter, so we had to finish up and get something to eat. I didn't manage to get any pics of us in the pool itself, since I had to be in the water with her the entire time, but I did get a shot of her waiting to eat lunch:
As you can see, she's pretty mellow. She devoured the pasta I'd brought for her and fell quickly asleep in the car.
Took a two hour nap when we got home and asked for more swimming when she woke up. I'd call that a successful first swim class! We hope to start BJ in his own class next week.

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