R was very afraid of water as a toddler. We have tried a lot of times to make her learn swimming. We tried in Bombay and then we tried in Goa when I had delivered R2 and we were there for a while with my parents.
It was only after coming to Tasmania, that we insisted R join a swimming class. She agreed. I loved loved loved the way they teach swimming here. It is all about fun and getting to know the water. Unlike RD who said that his dad just put him into the river at their village one day, and asked him to swim across, here it is a very set methodology.
When R joined, she was with kids as young as 3 years old. Kids here start swimming at the age of 6 months, I think. She was in the lowest level, but this time I saw a determined child. I asked her if it worried her and she said ‘Look, Amma, I have to start somewhere. So what if they are younger kids, more fun, no?”
This attitude meant that she was really serious this time. She would listen intently to the coach, practice and then she slowly started floating, without the help of a float. We did a couple of holiday classes with her, which meant we had to go every day of the week during her holidays. While the swimming pool was 1.5 kilometers from our house, we would leave 40 minutes early, because we had to walk to the pool. She would never complain. I would carry fruits for her to eat while walking back. A couple of times, she said, it was tiring to walk back after an intense swimming lesson, but most days she was okay with it.
We kept to it through out last year. She went up one level sometime in September, I think. But again, there were kids in her class. She kept going at it. Front stroke, back stroke, floating, getting to know the water. Her second coach is brilliant. She is a superb combination of being strict and loving and honestly, R loves her.
On Friday, when we re-started her class after the long 3 weeks gap, she astonished not only me, but also her coach. She went straight into the water, swimming half the length of the pool, with clear strokes and clean body line. She literally took to water like fish. I would not say she is a superb swimmer, but for a child who picked up swimming seriously only 10 months ago, she has shown a drastic improvement. When her coach is busy teaching other kids, I see R practicing going underwater without breathing and all that.
Her coach called me to her and asked me if we had spent our entire vacation just making R swim. I laughed and said, no, not at all. The coach said, she has shown such a strong improvement, that I am putting her up one level immediately.
This level is the starting point of serious swimming. Trust me, RD and I are relived. For a kid who hated water and was so scared of it, R has come a long way and I am pretty proud of her. I know there are kids of her age and much younger who swim like pros (After all we live on an island, everyone should learn how to swim, eh?), but for us, its a big achievement.
I only hope she continues to swim like this and make the water, her best friend.
Next in line is R2..but before that, I think, I better start taking swimming lessons 🙂
ETA: This post is actually dedicated to Ugich for being the inspiration behind making R learn to swim. She always has told me so many times that I just need to give R some time and she will get to it…so thank you so much 🙂