There we all were...the five of us sitting at the dining room table eating lunch on Canada Day. Lunch was the only thing standing between us and the swimming pool, which we were all looking forward to as the temperatures continued to climb. I was taking the opportunity to talk to the kids about the coming week and the start of swimming lessons.
"I don't want to take swimming lessons. I don't like them. They make us go in the deep end and I don't want to go in water where I can't touch the ground. Why do I have to go? After this year, I'm never taking them again," was my son's response.
Opinion heard. I typically wouldn't force my kids to do something they are so dead set against. But this one is different. You see, my son is very excited to be going to a Scout camp this year, where the emphasis is on canoeing. In a lake. Where it might, at times, be difficult to touch the ground should the canoe happen to tip. So I'm requiring a two-week stint of swimming lessons so that he will at least have some confidence that he will be able to help himself should he find himself treading water in a lake until help arrives. It's a safety thing for me.
To be sure, I did take the time to dig into his concerns. We talked about how he felt swimming in the shallow end. He shared that he is able to swim across the pool without putting his feet to the ground, and that sometimes his legs can tire out. We mused aloud about the difference between swimming in the shallow end and the deep end - if his feet aren't touching anyway, then did the depth of the water matter as much as it did before he became a stronger swimmer? We talked a bit about technique - how straight legs kicking is easier than bent legs kicking (so much so that he could slow down his flutter kick if he uses straight legs), how closed hands are more effective than open hands, and how a face in the water makes floating easier.
Fast forward to today. It's the second day of lessons. His swim class is heading to the deep end for the first time. I'm too busy playing with my younger two to sneak a peek at what the swim class is up to. I find out at lunch that they were doing kneeling and sitting dives into the water, which was something my son refused to do last year. Apparently it went well. Later in the afternoon, as we wait in line to visit the pool again this afternoon (just for fun), Nicholas announced that he would be promptly heading to the deep end to practice some more dives. And he does. Over and over again. He may be near the edge, but he is in the water and he hasn't substituted the edge for the pool bottom. He has found the confidence from within that he can get around in the pool with only his arms and legs and with no assistance from the pool bottom. Wow!