Lessons in swimming?

Finally got the boys enrolled in swimming lessons this summer after trying to teach them myself last summer. They are all very comfortable in the water, almost too comfortable for my peace of mind, so I thought maybe we should learn some better technique this summer. I enrolled them in Cedar Falls and am taking our neighbor Devon, who is 5, along with us. I wasn’t sure what level to enroll them in so went low and thought they would move them up if necessary. Oh dear.

Drew and Devon are in Level 3 in a zero-depth entry pool with some much younger kids who don’t want to get their faces wet and my poor boys are doing everything they can to try and swim in 1.5 feet of water whenever they get a chance! I have talked to the teachers and they agree that both boys could probably move up but that they aren’t super strong at floating…so? When was the last time you really floated in the pool? Generally you are swimming or treading water, right? Sure, they need to know how to float but that is almost all they have worked on for 2 weeks and these little guys just want to swim!

Devon is a very routine-oriented kid who asks a lot of questions and wants to know exactly what is happening. Before we leave my house, he typically asks me at least once if everything he needs is in his backpack. Then he will ask me again in the car, again as we get out of the car, again before he gets in the water, and one last time as they head to the locker room to get dressed. I happened to be at Sam’s pool when lessons got over the other day, which was not the normal procedure and it apparently through him for a loop. As Bridget and I walked over to them I noticed that Devon was just standing next to his backpack shivering. I waited til I was a little closer and yelled, “Devon, get your towel?” He looked at me as if I was speaking Latin and continued to shiver. I got a few steps closer and yelled, “Devon, unzip your backpack, get out your towel and dry off!” He looked at me as if I were stupid to tell him such a thing, then got out his towel and dried off. He is a smart kid but does not like a change in routine!

Drew is so darn excited to get in the pool that he either forgets to take his t-shirt off before he gets in and then has to wear a wet t-shirt while we run errands after lessons or forgets to pack either underwear or shorts. And of course, since he is my child, he will come out butt naked to tell me what he forgot. The last time he forgot shorts he decided that the best solution was to put on dry underwear then put his wet trunks over them. Genius.

And then we have Sam whose Level 4  lessons start in the Lazy River. He is with younger kids as well who aren’t necessarily afraid to get wet but are apparently afraid to listen to the teacher. Sam is a child who wants to do exactly what is asked of him and do it exactly right so he gets very frustrated when the teachers spend most of the class corralling the other kids. I almost jumped in the pool earlier this week and yanked a child out because he simply wouldn’t listen and the instructor was basically cajoling him the entire time to join the rest of the class. If I had been the teacher, that child would have been sitting on the side of the pool or drowning, just let me get on with the rest of these kids who want to learn. Although learn is an optimistic euphemism for what they are actually doing.

Again, Sam’s class is spending a lot of time working on floating and kicking with a kickboard. Now, I understand that it is important to learn to kick correctly and that it is easier when you don’t have to worry about your arms but really, could we try one stroke before lessons are over? I have even had Sam show his teachers his crawl and breaststroke before getting out of the pool but they still wouldn’t move him up a level because “he can still work a little bit on his floating.” Good lord, you’d think that they were expected to become rafts!

Bridget and I spend the entire 40 minutes of the lesson wandering slowly between groups and debating if she needs more chapstick, another sucker, or to get her swimming suit on.  She actually does better than I anticipated due to the fact that a lot of other parent’s bring babies to lessons so she has someone to pet and say “Hiiii puuunky. Hiiii baby” in a high-pitched voice that sounds remarkably like me when I talk to babies.

Let me clarify, I do think the instructors are doing the best that they can but I don’t think they are challenging the kids, just trying to get through the 40 minutes without anyone drowning. I’m sure most of the kids will pass their level but won’t know how to swim!