I want to draw references to great Irish swimmers but the only one I know of is Michelle Smith (de Brun) and we all know what happened to her. The next swimmer that springs to mind is Michael Phelps, and he’s not exactly who I want to reference. There’s that ultra toned English guy who did really well at diving in the last Olympics, but I’ve no idea of his name and all I know about him is that he came out as gay and the British Media went mental.
So that’s it. My sum total of knowledge about well known swimmers. Doesn’t bode well for this new activity we’ve undertaken does it?
She’s not exactly Tom Daley diving in yet (that’s his name!); there’s still a bit of trepidation when we head for our first dip in the pool. But I think this is more to do with the size of her and the fact that within a few steps she’s up to her neck in the water, which is scary for anyone at first.
She’s stopped clinging to me. Which is good, because I’m pregnant and the first week she drop kicked me in the stomach a number of times because she thought I was trying to drown her.
Conor, our tutor, told me from the start to keep putting her feet back on the ground, to let her get her footing and her confidence.
It took some time to get her used to this, but with having a bit of control over her balance she slowly came round to accepting being in the water.
The biggest surprise is what we’ve brought home with us. (I’m not talking veruccas, we’re all about the crocs these days).
As part of the class, the toddlers are asked to make animal noises. There’s monkey, buzzy bee, moo cow and depending on Conor’s mood, tiger (RAAAAWWRRRRR). The kids make these noises while putting their mouths in the water and they think it’s great craic altogether.
When we get home I ask August, what sound does the monkey make, and she takes great delight in shouting OOO OOO OOO at me. So much so that we’re going to head to the zoo for her upcoming birthday. Literally changing our life!
What I’m seeing is that she’s learning. Not just the swimming actions, but she’s loving the songs and the group activities that we’re taking part in too. We’ve never really been part of a class before, so outside of swimming I keep singing happy in your nappy at her and forcing her to clap her hands at all times of the day because I don’t want us to fall behind. (Training).
I can’t praise Conor enough. He has a young son himself and its shows – he understands what the toddlers are thinking and how we as parents connect and engage with them. It’s no easy feat to control a class of two year olds and their sleep deprived parents, splashing about in the kid’s pool.
We haven’t made it to all of our classes in the past few weeks. I’ve been ill with the pregnancy and have had to miss a week or two. I feel bad as I know that August enjoys it so much and I don’t want to interrupt our learning. Luckily, she’s a bit young yet to know that we’re at home in bed when she should be in her flamingo costume drinking mouthfuls of chlorine.
One moment stands out in my mind from the past few weeks. It was when she dipped under the water right before my eyes. She lost her footing and disappeared. I yanked her up and as is my natural reaction as a mother, hugged her close and comforted her while she recovered from ingesting the pool water. A friend of mine and one of the more experienced mothers later told me that the best thing to do is not to make a big deal of when they dip under but scoop them up and make a game out of it, so they don’t see it as a scary thing, but a natural part of swimming. It happened once more the following week and that’s what I did.
I love that swimming is being taught naturally to them. All the actions and games are about getting them to feel the water on their heads and bodies, to stretch themselves out and kick, to act, well… like little fish.
Which brings me back to the start. The fish. The Olympic swimmers. The people at one with the water, who can flip and turn and dive and breaststroke like big human dolphins.
We’re not quite there yet. But we’re getting there. Or at least she is.
My chance floated away a long time ago.
We’re taking part in Aura Leisure Centre‘s Swim Tots classes. This is not a sponsored post, but we have received the lessons at no cost for review purposes. All opinions our own. (OK, mostly mine, I can’t tell what the toddler thinks half the time).