Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Swimming and the boys - Episode 1

While I was pregnant with S (during the first trimester), i.e., in early 2008, I visited a Lifetime Fitness centre. That was my first visit to a fitness centre in the States and I fell in love with the swimming pools. There were lots of pools - diving, 6ft pools for adult swimmers, 10 ft pools and what not. The one that caught my attention was the one with a depth gradation of 0 ft to 4 ft. There were just months old babies learning to swim (along with their parents), toddlers trying to blow bubbles, preschoolers jumping into the water and so on. Everyone was ENJOYING the water. Seeing that I made up my mind to teach my baby swimming (at that time I did not know if it was a boy or a girl).

On those same thoughts during the summer of 2009, I would put S in his big inflatable froggy pool and let him play with his bath toys, splash water out of the pool and play with him while in the pool. We also wanted to get him accustomed to big bodies of water so that when he started formal swimming lessons, it would not be extremely difficult. He enjoyed the water a lot, but I just think a swimming pool is a lot different form a baby's inflatable pool.

When S was 18 months old, we enrolled him into the Parent and Baby swim lesson at the Y during the summer of 2010. Every Tuesday C would go with S into the pool and they would have fun. (I did not get into the pool with S because I was scared of S kicking onto my second time pregnant tummy). For the first three classes, he did just great. Something happened (I cannot understand what it is until now) and from the fourth or the fifth class onwards, he continuously cried really loud (read wail) in the pool, clung on tight to C and did not let go, never tried to blow bubbles, was very hesitant to walk on the floating pad and play with the swimming toys provided by the Y. I asked his swimming teacher a couple of times and she always said that it was OK and that he would get over it. Neither C nor I knew swimming at that point in time to really understand what was going on. Also, A was due in a month or two. So, once we were done with S's swimming lessons (9 in total), swimming took a back seat.

Then in summer of 2011 we used to take both, S and A to the apartment pool.  Like before, S never ever liked it. He just did not want to swim. He was very frightened, cried for as long as we were in the water or just wait on the step in the pool. I brought his bath toys, a net and what not. NOTHING enticed him.  Pursuing my childhood dream, I learnt swimming during the same time. So, I tried to get S comfortable using the techniques that I learnt at the Y. He would be OK for a while, but he needed me around. He did not feel comfortable in the pool even with his dad around. 
Quite the opposite, A loved the water. He would stay in his little duckie floater and try to catch the bath toys. Though it was his first time in the pool, he went with anybody into the pool - as in, he wasn't specific that he needed his dad or mom. He was OK with the pool water in his eyes - if we got him underwater - if we stayed in the water for more than an hour etc etc. All of us got into the relaxation mode looking at him in the pool - it was a wonderful sight to see.  During our farewell swim party at the Y, all my swim teachers just held onto A and did not want to let go of him. He was comfortable on his back, side and stomach. He just loved the water and we both started to call him 'The Water Baby'.

Then came the summer of 2012. This time S was a wee bit more comfortable in the water because he had been going swimming every afternoon in summer school. He always went in with his floatie and his teachers told me that he used to do good. But the little I saw he was OK, not good. We did not push him too much only so that he doesn't get averse to swimming. A was great as usual in the water. He just needed formal training to really start swimming.
Winter 2012 came and swimming took a back seat in our home. So, that little comfortable factor that S reached during the summer was gone too. :-(

When I think about it, S's fears were extremely difficult to overcome. His fears and/or dislikes during swimming included - 

  • getting wet - S just does not like getting wet. This stands to date. While washing his hands or mouth, he does not like even a drop of water on his clothes.
  • no bottom in the pool - The fact that his feet are not on land during swimming / cycling etc makes him very uncomfortable.  
  • water rides - he disliked water rides / water parks too. we tried those thinking that he would overcome his fear, but I think they worsened.

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