Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Learning to Swim!

Yesterday Hunter got to experience the thrill of the water as we swam in an outdoor pool at a friend's house for a good two hours at least.

Hunter was a bit timid at first as he wasn't used to swimming without an inflatable (he uses a jacket at Grandma's house) but within just a few minutes he was swimming like a fish, not the slightest bit afraid in any sense of the word.

We started swimming at the YMCA on a regular basis up until February when our membership expired and I have been so busy I haven't yet made the time to renew it. I thought that it would take him quite a bit longer to get used to the water again, and really swimming and diving like he was before, but he surprised me immensely with his boldness and capabilities.

We did a lot of the ideas from How to Teach Your Baby to Swim. This book is geared towards parents who have started at the newborn to toddler level, and then taking you all the way up to six years of age, but we were able to adapt some of the techniques intended for tinier kids for Hunter. There really isn't that much to teaching a little kid how to swim, because in fact humans are born knowing how to swim. Here are some pictures of a few of the exercises we did:

This is what we like to call "dolphin rides" as he holds onto my neck and I swim around with him, and every now and then going "1, 2, 3, under!" for just a moment to get him used to being underwater. He didn't want to go under at first, and I didn't force him when he didn't want to, just gently coached him. Note that even though we haven't been swimming in a while we have been practicing "going under" and blowing bubbles almost every time we take a bath, as many kids are afraid of getting their faces wet.
By the end of our swim he excitedly counted down and exclaimed, "Under!" in anticipation when I rode him around.

Here I swam on my back and he held onto my shoulders while kicking. We made this one up because he wasn't wanting to be horizontal with the water and kick, and being on my stomach made him more comfortable. I'm looking to do more exercises like these to help him be a better swimmer in order to be able to swim on top of the water.

This is "twinkle, twinkle" as we call it where I help him float on his back while singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". He is very uneasy about floating on his back, as it is such a vulnerable position, but he did really well with a little bit of gentle coaching.

I made sure he had lots of practice climbing OUT of the pool as it is one of the most important safety skills if he were ever to fall in. I tried to give him minimal assistance to help him learn to do it on his own.

Here he gets ready to jump off the edge. At first he wanted me to be closer, closer, closer but after not very long he was comfortable with me being out of reaching distance.

Here he jumps to my excited arms.

This is his first time jumping off the diving board. Note that he WANTED to jump as he saw all the big kids doing it, but was a little nervous at first. I try to maintain a confident composure in spite of his tenseness. Also note that once he did his first jump I couldn't keep him off the diving board.

Here he has jumped in and is swimming to my waiting arms underwater. Even though he has barely begun to swim at all he can already swim a few feet underwater before coming up. At this point he can only get his face out up to the eye level and not yet get his hole face and, more importantly, his mouth out. But we'll get there soon.

Here is a later picture of him jumping off the diving board. Note how far away I am and how excited he is. I did not even have my arms up, as he jumped in, kicked to the surface and swam to me.

A big splash to waiting arms. :)

I am eager to share with other parents how much fun it is to teach your newborn, toddler, or preschooler how to swim. Even if you don't have your own home pool there are many opportunities to get some time in water in this 70%-water planet of ours, a starter would be your own bathtub. You only have to see one severely brain-injured child or worse, one parent of a dead child to have the motivation to teach your small child to swim. But beyond being a vitally important safety skill it is also a great deal of fun and highly beneficial to a child's physical and intellectual development as it stimulates so many different parts of the brain and uses so many different muscles.

This is the first set of pictures but we are looking forward to more on the way as the months progress!

"And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands."
Isaiah 25:11

Hunter is 3 years, 3 months old

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments!