For the last three summers, I have taken Lydia to a swim lesson the week or two before we go to the beach. The last two years were parent and child classes, getting her comfortable with the water and teaching me a few techniques to practice.
This year, Lydia was ready for the "big kids" class. I was nervous about how she would do with the idea of mommy NOT being in the water with her. I was also a little worried because we upgraded from the class taught at the local college by college kids to the professional swim school taught by the local kid's swimming expert.
As soon as I registered for the class, an email came with VERY specific instructions on when to arrive (no more than 5 minutes early and definitely not late), where not to park (especially if you are early or late because there won't be any space), why you need a swim cap, how to prepare your child for class (frequent water... To the FACE), and what to do if your kid freaks out (mommy must leave)! I joke a little, but I knew from the recommendations of friends and from this type of correspondence that this class would be hard core. However, I felt that Lydia was ready for it and I definitely wanted to see more progress than other summers.
When we got to the first class, I realized two things. First, my kid was fine! She had been a little worried the day or two before class, but preschool was also ending that week and she seemed anxious in general. (she didn't want to go to school, she worried about missing her friends) We talked about being scared and I referenced the song from The Sound of Music (she loves watching it with Grammy) about remembering your favorite things when you are worried or sad. She told me that swimming was one of her favorite things, so we focused on remembering that she enjoyed swimming if she got nervous about the class.
So the first night she left my side, sat with the kids, and immediately struck up a conversation with anyone in earshot! In fact, that was my biggest problem. She got reminded to stop talking over and over again! Apparently she inherited my habits for vocalizing when excited. At least she wasn't screaming and panicking!
In fact, once she settled down she was going under water, and holding her breath, and blowing bubbles, and using a kick board, and floating on her back! The instructor is firm but caring. Even the patents can't escape his lectures about taking pictures, Internet safety, why your kid needs a kickboard, and how to guard your kickboard from kickboard thievery and kickboard tomfoolery! He is a character, but the kids want his approval and they are rising to the challenge. Last week I was impressed that Lydia would jump into the pool where the instructor was waiting with a kickboard for her to kick her way back to the edge. Last night, she jumped off the DIVINGBOARD to him and swam (no kick board and head under water) back to the edge!
She has one more session next week and then we leave for a short visit with my parents and then it is off to the beach. I have already bought the much recommended kick board and will attempt not to use floaties (another favorite lecture topic) on Lydia this summer. (OK that last part makes my nervous!) I'm thinking about signing her up for the next class to build on the momentum we have at the moment. I feel like it will be better to get her through the next level of swimming classes now than to wait until next summer, when I will have my hands full with baby Joshua. I'll keep you posted!