Originally written as a blog post for AquaTots:
I grew up in a single parent household with my mum and my brother; she cannot swim, and was scared to take me and my brother in case anything happened to us, as she did not feel confident in the water.
I had swimming lessons for a term in Year 4, but most of my class could not swim, so I didn’t actually learn anything then! Fast forward a few years to starting secondary school; we had weekly swimming lessons in Years 7 and 8, and in the first lesson, we were pretty much told to jump in the pool and get to the other side – as a non-swimmer, this was my idea of hell! I did it, but it really knocked my confidence. By the end of the first term, I could swim front and back, and jump in off the diving board, as we had to do, but I never enjoyed swimming due to the constant fear, and I HATED putting my head under the water
Even as an adult, this has stuck with me, and I have never put my head under the water since school, just paddled, but I was also adamant that my kids would not grow up with the same fear I had. When I watched my husband and brother-in-law on family holidays jump in, dive and splash around, I knew that’s what I wanted for my kids, not the absolute fear that me, my brother and my mum all share (I will say that I absolutely do not blame my mum! She is terrified of the water still, and I do understand why!)
I was adamant that my own kids would not share my fears, so we started swimming lessons when the eldest was just two weeks old, and at six months we switched to AquaTots as their system was much more progressive. My husband swam with Thomas each week, and I watched both of them enjoy the experience and learn so much together.
When Thomas was 16 months old, along came Katherine, and we wanted her to have a similar experience, so she enrolled in AquaTots at three months old. This time, Paul was insistent that I swim with her, so that I could experience the same bonding experience that he did with Thomas. I was apprehensive, but wanted to give it a go!
From the start, you are introduced to exercises gradually, and build on previous lessons and experiences. Even in Duckling course, you are taught how to release your child safely under the water, and there is absolutely no pressure to go underwater if you do not want to, but if my three-month-old can be submerged independently, then why can’t I?! So I finally bit the bullet and went under with her… And I can honestly say that it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared!
I have now gained the confidence to push off the wall underwater with Katherine and push her towards Sam, and regularly go under with her for the turning exercises. I am looking forward to learning even more skills with my daughter, and thanks to AquaTots for being the push to increase my confidence!