As an amateur triathlete, I hate swimming! Put me on 2 wheels and I’m pretty good. Even on 2 legs I can just about put one in front of the other with some sort of speed. But squeeze me into a wetsuit and ask me to swim in 14 degree water, and I flounder like a fish out of water! It seems that I’m in good company with other triathletes. Not many seem to enjoy the swim part, it’s just what you have to do in order to get to the bike and the run… So why don’t we do duathlons I hear you say! The answer is simple, a duathlon is NOT a triathlon, so if I did a duathlon, I wouldn’t be a triathlete! Get me?
Anyway, my hate for swimming is something I do not want to pass on to the boy so I decided to get him used to the water and able to swim from the word go. Therefore, I took him for baby swimming lessons. There’s plenty of companies out there, but we chose to swim with Water babies, based on their reputation and I’d highly recommend them.
At first thought, this might seem a bit odd: the boy has only just developed the ability to hold his own head up, he still does’t know he even has legs and his hands are for the prime function of sucking… how is he going to learn to swim?! All very true, but on second thought, babies come from an aquatic life, they’re practically amphibians! Their previous life in the womb was a fully submerged experience so in reality they’re born having a natural love for water.
This love is obviously affected when we take them out into the cold, bright and stark looking world and for some they don’t like going back into the water. I’ve bathed the boy every night since he was born, so he got used to water being a regular part of his life. This really helped when we went swimming!
Once I’d gotten over the trauma of removing his clothes and getting a very awkward swimming nappy and swimming trunks on him, I tentatively walked towards the pool with the other parents. (A lot of whom were dads!) The instructor asked us to get in and start bobbing our babies up and down. This in itself is a fine art: bob too high and they get cold, bob too low and they get a mouth full of water. I could tell at this moment that there was going to be more to this than splashing!
We learnt the swim position; the boy was on his tummy with my hands around his shoulders, under his arms and thumbs just under his chin. We circulated the pool like a swarm of Great Whites about to attack and then learnt a song that made me dizzy.
“Splish Splash, Splish splash
Around in a circle
And up in the air…”
And so on… after the 4th ‘around in a circle’ I almost lost balance. I might look smart but it was the guy next to me who suggested I alternate clockwise turns with anticlockwise. A smart move, even for a dad!
Then came the fun bits. Get a hand filled with water and pour it over the boys head! ‘Ready, Teddy, Go! *Big breathe and splash…!’ The big breathe is very important as they will then begin to learn to take a big breathe before they receive a face full of water. Following this came some more battling with dizziness, more embarrassing singing and circling the instructor before she took each baby in turn and proceeded to dunk them under water. Swimming classes aren’t for the faint hearted; it seemed a little unnatural to push him under water, but I held in my concerns, confident in the credentials of the qualified instructor and just made sure I was smiling when he came up!
To be honest, it was really special to see him come through the water and up into my arms. He was a little shocked at first and did the whole wobbly head, wide eyed look at me, but then seemed fine. I guess the memory of babies is pretty short… I don’t recommend taking your baby to the local pool or even the bath and dunking him in without some research first. The position of them as they enter the water is quite important etc.
This was the end of the lesson, which was just as well because not all the babies enjoyed the dunking quite as much. Here’s my top tip: if you take your baby swimming, dunk at the end! If they cry, you can get out anyway!
Baby swimming lessons with the boy were a success and we’re both looking forward to the rest of them.
Now I just need to get him to learn to walk and ride a bike and he’ll be an athletic triathlon machine!
*We received our swimming lessons discounted as compensation for writing this post.