When I grew up we spent summers in a warm lake at the cottage owned by my grandparents. We also had a few months of swim lessons at the local Y around age 8 or 10. My kids have been a little more disadvantaged at the learn-to-swim thing. Our lake is glacier-fed, meaning it’s freezing cold 10 months of the year and very cold for the other two. Locally there are no swimming lessons, and there’s no pool. There’s a remote possibility that swim lessons might be offered in Nelson at a time that we’re travelling there anyway, but it hasn’t happened the past few years.

Still, the kids have learned to swim. Mostly in hotel pools, with occasional refresher courses in the hot springs pools an hour north of us. Somehow a couple of hours of swimming a handful of times a year has made swimmers out of most of them. (Fiona is close, but not quite there yet.)

It’s probably just as well that my kids are “immersion learners” who prefer to let things lie fallow for a time and then delve deeply into learning, making great strides in short periods of time. I remember the fall Noah turned 7, staying at a motel with the kids while Chuck attended a CME conference. In the course of a single day Noah went from being a barely-swimmer who could dog-paddle a few strokes so long as he didn’t get his face wet, to confidently diving head-first into the deep and of the pool and challenging himself to swim down and touch bottom. We were all raisins that day. I think we spent more than 8 hours in the water.

These days Sophie is our most passionate swimmer. The monthly trips to Calgary have given her plenty of opportunity to hone her fishy skills. Alas her immense mop of fine blond hair does not like the water at all. She pays for her trips to the pool with 20 minutes of shampooing and conditioning afterwards to get the barbieness1 out. I think I must look for one of those specialty shampoos for swimmers.

1barbieness – [bahr bee nes] noun
The noxious texture of squeaky plastic Barbie-doll hair.

barbieish – [barh bee ish] adj.
Pink and girly, as marketed specifically to young girls.

Learning to swim

One thought on “Learning to swim

  • May 26, 2008 at 10:35 am

    We’re debating swim lessons this summer for the Elf & the Fairy. I never had them – just learned to swim – but, I am considering them for the kids.

    Your story of Noah just taking off in swimming reminds me of Cyrus learning to ride a bike without training wheels.

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