My Girls Can Swim

The girls have been taking swimming classes this summer, as I mentioned in a recent post. We did a class with them back when they’d just turned two, which was more just a “bring your baby in the water with you and see if you can get him/her to get wet without screaming” class. (Clio failed the “without screaming” part). But it occurred to us this spring that, gee, at some point we should probably teach our children how to swim.

The first session was also of the “get-in-the-pool-with-your-kid” variety. But this time, they wore bubbles and we gave them opportunities to be more fully in the water — moving their arms, kicking, being on their backs, etc. Elsa took to it like, well, Elsa to water. She was doing a mean dog paddle (with attached flotation device, that is) by the second or third session.

Clio? Well, not so much. In fact, pretty much any time we tried to get her to remove one or both arms from our necks, she screamed as if we were about to feed her to sharks. (Maybe she thought there were sharks in the pool? Hm. Didn’t think of that.) By the last couple of classes, she was letting the instructors hold her while she swam. But still. Talk about a study in twin contrasts.

Nevertheless, both of the girls “graduated,” albeit to different levels: Clio is now a “Beginner Pike” (From the description: For fearful swimmers. This is the only class where crying is allowed.”) while Elsa is a straight-up Pike.

We weren’t sure how things were going to go. Would Clio freak out in a class without us? Would she freak out without Elsa there?  We briefly considered keeping them in the same class — which would mean basically holding Elsa back — but I didn’t think it was a good idea. I don’t want to hold her back from challenges and opportunities just because Clio isn’t ready for them at the same time.

To our relief, Clio has done OK with being on her own with the other Beginner Pikes. Last week, she shed nary a tear — well, maybe a couple, at first, but after that she seemed to do fine. (We can watch them through the windows next to the family/kids pool.) I think this week was a little tougher because both of the other two kids in the class cried the entire time. And let me tell you, it was not much fun to sit there seeing her (but not hearing her) yelling “No! No! Mama! Mama!” as the instructor attempted to float her across the pool with a big foam noodle around her middle.

One of the other moms, seeing her son do the same, couldn’t take it, and went in and got him. But the other mom and I stood firm, our jaws set with Yankee resolve. (Well, the other woman was Indian, so maybe that’s not quite accurate….) It’s hard to watch your baby be afraid, but there are times when you’ve gotta just push ’em out of the nest. Into the pool. With a proper flotation device and accredited instructors.

When I went to get her afterward, I expected Clio to collapse in my arms, a soaked, sobbing mess. But she was quite chipper. “I was crying and I didn’t want to go on the big floating froggy thing,” she brightly informed me. “Can I have a snack?”

Next, we watched Elsa in her class — this one in the “grownup” pool. She totally kicked ass, and was clearly having an amazing time. She was swimming on her own (with flotation device), going after balls, riding on the “big floating froggy thing,” and learning how to float on her back. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but well, she was pretty much the best one in the class. Or, perhaps, you could say the one in the class with the least sense of self-preservation. (And this is my only fear about the whole thing — I’d hate for her to get *too* cocky around the water.)

Bottom line, I’m really happy that we put the girls into two different classes — which are clearly the classes they belong in. Sure, it’s a little less convenient for us, but it’s absolutely worth it.

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