Thursday, July 01, 2010

Swim lessons for babies!

When my twin and I were born, our family moved into a home that had a pool in the backyard. It had a large fence around it, but our family spent a lot of time out there in warmer months, so our parents felt it was a good idea to make sure the Twin and I knew how to swim, if possible.

Now, I’m not sure how it all came to pass that they felt we should be learning how when we were still infants, but they found some teacher lady who did just that…taught babies how to “swim”. There isn’t much you can do to teach a baby to swim, and the assistive equipment available back in the 70’s was pretty pitiful, really. We had floaties back then, but not baby-sized ones. But with the pool in the backyard, it just seemed smart to make sure we knew what to do if we ever fell in and didn’t have someone nearby to help us get out right away.

If I recall correctly, we had to have been around 16 months old when we started the lessons. I’m really not sure. I know we weren’t even 2 yet. And I also remember the lessons pretty vividly, because they were only slightly less than traumatizing. This woman would literally throw us into the pool, and tell us to try our best to get to the side. There was no technique of arm strokes or leg kicking that was taught…no “hey, here’s how you hold your breath” kind of stuff…just throw us in, and let us thrash about. As I understand it, after the first lesson, our oldest sister used to cry and beg my mom not to do that to us again. Because we’d basically thrash about, trying to get to the edge until a grown up saved us, and then we’d throw up water for a half hour when we were done. Awesome.

Not to say that the “swim” lessons didn’t help any. In fact, had we not had them, I’d have died when we were 3. I fell in the pool while I was out playing with the Twin in the backyard. While she ran inside to get our dad, I remembered that I was supposed to try to get myself to the edge in any way possible. Unfortunately, I only succeeded in getting myself further into the middle of the shallow end, where I was still too short to be able to reach the bottom and have my head above water. BUT I had learned enough to know to try to get my head above water to get air, and that was what kept me alive. I was even conscious to see my dad jump into the pool, fully clothed, and pull me to safety. So, to an extent, those damned “swim” lessons did their job!

I didn’t swim again for 3 years, though. And then we got proper lessons when we were 6…and after that I was in the pool pretty much from sun up to sun down throughout the summer!

There was a story on the news this morning about the value of teaching an infant to swim, and as you just read, I can speak from experience to say that it does serve a purpose. I like the way the kids are learning these days better than how they taught the Twin and I when we were babies. Had that woman just taught us to flip onto our backs, and try to stay that way until someone could help us, it would have been better than her “kick and stroke to the edge of the pool” technique, I’d think. Because babies can only grasp so much, you know?

Anyway, if you have a pool, and you have children, it makes sense to start early with the swimming lessons. Besides the fact that swimming is one of the most awesome activities on the planet, it can save a life for a child to have that knowledge. Slapping a floating device on them, and wishing them well isn’t teaching them anything. Go a step further…get them some lessons. Just make sure it’s not the sink or swim kind that we had. ::shudder::

1 comment:

faithstwin said...

For fucks sake- I just types out a lengthy comment and it got swallowed. Fucking stupid internet!!!