The boys have completed their two week swim lesson camp, and I’m really pleased with their results. I wasn’t sure how well this was going to work out. We’ve put the boys through swimming lessons before, and at the time they seemed to be a waste of time and money. After about 3 months neither of the boys had made any progress, and for the amount of money we were paying for those lessons it didn’t seem worth it to continue the lessons.
Not to say that the place we were going to was completely worthless. Our nephew took lessons there as well and he swims better than any 6 year old I’ve ever seen. It just wasn’t working for my boys at the time we had them in lessons. But that was also a few years ago when Brendan was 7 and Cameron was 3. We felt that the time was ripe to have the boys go through lessons again, but before we plunked down the major investment we tried a different route.
Our local high school offers lessons in the summer for next to nothing in cost. Essentially, members of the high school swim team volunteer to be the instructors and your fee pays to keep the swimming pool at the high school open. I’d heard good things about the program, but never managed to get a hold of the flyer to find the registration information. Because that is the one down side. There is only 1 day to register and its first come first serve.
We put both boys into the level 1 class because it had been so long since either of them took lessons, and I had no idea how much they would remember. Looking back over the two weeks I definitely feel this was the right thing to do. Brendan was way older than any of the other level 1 students but during those first few days he was clearly uncomfortable in the water.
Cameron was his typical self. I keep hoping that he’s grown and matured enough to grow out of his stubborn phase, but alas he has not. When Cameron sets his mind to something he can accomplish so much for a child of his age, but when he decides that he’s not going to do something nothing can persuade him otherwise. And he decided from the get go that he was afraid to put his head under the water.
The way things worked out, my boys were paired up with the same instructor, and even having his older brother there for support was not enough to convince Cameron that this activity was fun. Incidentally having them under the same instructor was a complete accident. I’d told Brendan on the first day to stay with his little brother–meaning they should walk together to the assigned area. Brendan took that to mean he was not to leave his brothers side and when they put them under different instructors he argued with them that his mom they couldn’t be apart and the instructors switched students around to keep my boys in the same class. I’ve since explained to Brendan what I really meant, but I’m really glad to know he took his role as protector to his younger sibling so seriously.
Despite Cameron’s reservations and reluctance to do anything their instructor asked, Brendan took to the lessons like a fish to water. He’d do all that the instructor asked and then push himself to do more. He was expected to be able to do 5 bobs in a row (putting your head under the water for approximately 5 seconds) and Brendan did 10. Then the next day in an effort to break his own record he did 11.
Seeing him excel each and every day made me worry a little that he would get bored well before the 2 weeks of lessons were over, but he didn’t. Part of what was pushing him to keep going and keep excelling was the instructors themselves. Our lesson was the first of the day, and we generally arrived about 15-20 minutes early in order to get a better parking spot. We would then go up to the stands to wait for the boys lesson to start and we’d have an opportunity to watch the swim team practice.
Brendan watched the swimmers with deep adoration. Watching them flip seamlessly in the water and kick off the wall to swim the other direction, watching their smooth unbroken strokes through the water, and the absolute grace with which they moved their bodies. The more he watched them swim, the more he decided he wanted to be just like them. He kept asking me questions about what he needed to do to become a member of the swim team when he got to high school. Barely able to swim myself, I dreaded the weeks that I was required to swim in gym class in high school. I would have no idea what it takes to get on the swim team, and I told Brendan so.
Brendan…on the swim team…I never thought I would put those words together in a sentence. This is the same kid who as a baby refused to put his hands into the water due to his sensory issues. He loved to be in the bath, but would sit with his hands raised in the air and point blank refused to touch the water. The same child who used to cling to us like we were leading him into hot lava any time we took him swimming as a toddler. Who used to “play” with our inflatable swimming pool at home by putting all of his toys into it and then getting them back out again, all without ever setting foot into the thing itself. And once he did finally get into the pool a few years later spent many a summer standing in the little pool and getting nothing more than his feet and legs wet. His swim trunks would stay bone dry.
This is the child I figured would inherit my aversion to swimming. (I don’t like to put my face into the water which makes it nearly impossible to learn to swim properly) This is not the child I figured would latch onto swimming and do so well with it. Can he actually qualify for the swim team? Time will tell. Right now he still lacks muscle tone and getting himself pushed out of the water and onto the side of the pool is still a struggle for him, but with enough time and strength conditioning who knows.
Either way there are many many more swim lessons in Brendan’s future.