I’m not a swimming teacher. And in my work life, I do work with Water Babies. But this blog post is not sponsored or influenced by anyone. It’s just me, putting myself out there.
Because more importantly than my work stuff, I’m a mummy. And I’m writing this blog post because I needed to find somewhere to voice my concern and fears about the video that’s doing the rounds right now. You know, that one where the girl is sobbing, aged 13 months, trying to climb out to her daddy, who is filming for over 9 minutes of her crying and begging to not be put under the water. Or the one with the baby that’s fully dressed, floating on their back, sobbing for someone to come and rescue them.
I’m not linking to it. Because it made me cry and I don’t want to upset anyone else :(
I don’t want anyone to think that this is what’s needed to teach a baby or toddler to swim. Suffice to say, that to anyone with common sense, it’s not how you do it. Or at least, it doesn’t need to be done like that to teach babies and toddlers to swim. I’ve got first hand evidence of it because E and W are both great swimmers and they were never ever asked to go under the water when they didn’t want to. In fact, our swimming teacher taught us to ask their permission to do it with them when we did it. And it wasn’t done over and over again within one lesson – in fact, we had to stop E from swimming underwater and get him to swim on top!
I’m worried that I’m going to phrase this badly. I’m nervous about putting myself out there because I’m not qualified in this area. But what I am, is passionate about baby swimming and how good it is for babies and their parents.
The swimming lessons we’ve had with Water Babies – and yes, we did them for years before I did any work with them – were brilliant. They saw E make the transition from splashing about to being a fantastic swimmer.
And for W, whose water wobbles lasted for months, they saw him go from being reluctant to be in the water, to being happy and confident in the water. In fact, I’m ashamed to say that I would ask our teacher to force W to do stuff in the pool – not going underwater, but just to be more compliant when he was in the wobbles, because I was so desperate for him to be able to swim like E. Our teacher was so calm, caring and supportive of W and me, in different ways. She’d help me relax and stop panicking about the fact that he was reluctant to do the same things as the other toddlers.
Her praise, whenever he did anything that was remotely within the lessons plans was enough to get him and me through the lessons. And when he wanted to quite literally go in the other direction to everyone else, that was fine as well. In fact, I’m quite teary thinking about the attention, love and guiding care that was shown to us both. I suppose that’s why so many of their families come to them through word of mouth isn’t it?
And with E, who is now swimming full lengths of 25 meters – doing breaststroke, front crawl and back crawl confidently, having just turned 6, in classes with children aged 7 and 8, I’m forever grateful for how she encouraged him, stretched him and literally cheered for him and his friends who were all as advanced as him, at just 4 years old…..
I suppose what I’m trying to say, is that when looking for swimming lessons for your baby, you’re looking for someone who will care for you and your baby, encourage you to have fun, has lots of experience in teaching, has the facilities to make it as easy and stress free as possible for you, has qualifications, insurance and doesn’t mind you asking lots of questions.
I would not go to a swimming school that puts babies under the water over and over again. It’s just plain wrong. And it’s giving a bad name to all the people who I know, who are baby swimming teachers who love their job, love teaching babies and toddlers to swim and are caring, supportive and very professional in their approach to their work.
Here’s to all the brilliant, water confident, happy splish splashing swimmers out there. And their mummies, daddies and the grandparents who take them to their lessons each week and get utterly soaked because their babies think it’s funny!!!