Blogger Template by Blogcrowds

Swimming lessons

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
In this country, especially this part of the country, swimming is a life skill. Like walking, drinking, eating or talking. Both houses either side of us have a pool. We live a mere 20 minute walk from the beach. The summer heat dictates that we do whatever it takes to stay cool. And yet finding swimming lessons isn’t as easy as it sounds. The local pool, a couple of minutes drive away, does not offer ‘learn to swim’ classes. Either there is a lack of private, local swimming teachers, or marketing is not their strong point (although I did hear of one last week – the first one I’ve heard of in 4.5 years living here). So, we look elsewhere. International visitors staying with family this week couldn’t believe that living so close to the spectacular calm waters of the Great Barrier Reef, we would take our children on a 20 minute drive inland for swimming lessons. Well, apparently a tourist area isn’t necessarily family friendly.

Finding swimming lessons for babies, toddlers and pre-school aged children is notoriously difficult in town here. Each week there is a mass migration to the next town where lessons are held. The other problem was the timing. When I was first looking for my eldest, when she was 6 months old (and I had just found out I was pregnant with #2) I discovered that a) there is no such thing as swimming lessons in “winter” (winter is a joke here, we basically have two – three months of autumn then spring arrives again) and b) swimming lessons on a weekend, or at a time when parents who worked could actually bring their children? Not likely. I was working full-time at that point, and read with mounting jealousy of people taking their children to swimming lessons on a Saturday. In June (“winter”).

When my youngest was 6 months, I tried again. The times were a little more flexible (two days a week!) but still difficult to manage with a 9 month old, and a nearly 2 year old (having to get in the water with both of them). By the time the youngest turned one, my mother in law put her foot down, came with us to swimming lessons, paid for half of them, and watched one child while I dealt with the other. After a while we realised that while we’d gotten in early enough with the little one, the big one wasn’t that keen on the water. Discussions with the teacher followed, and two lessons a week were planned.

Over time (well, the ten week sessions in which lessons are held for half an hour a week) she improved, and the following year began going in without me, and learning things like floating and strokes. I had hoped she would be allowed into the beginners class this year, which teaches actual swimming, rather than just survival. However as I began my research in early September, I soon discovered the previous owners of the swimming school had left, and the new owners were planning an open day for this past Sunday. Desperate for my children to finally master this skill, I packed up the family for the 20 minute drive to check out the new people and find out what classes they were doing.

Of course all the classes have changed, and now my eldest will have to repeat the class she did last season, because she’s “not quite ready” for the beginners class. Added to this the 140% price increase and I’m wondering if the effort is worth it? I mean for two (or three, depending on luck) days a week to pack the bags, snacks and traipse across the countryside, to share my ever increasing pregnancy body with the unsuspecting world, swim for an hour with the kids, feed them, shower them, dress them (again!) and scurry home to do an extra load of washing (so everything’s clean for next time) and deal with the exhausted kids on top of the regular housework, study, moving preparation and general pregnancy exhaustion. I’m tired just thinking about it.

Of course I’ll do it, and pay the extra money, because knowing how to swim is not a luxury, but a necessary survival skill.

It does help that the new swimming coach is a bit of a hottie.


  1. River said...

    I agree that knowing how to swim is absolutely essential, but the survival skills are even more important. don't want to frighten you but I remeber a story several years ago where a baby learnt to swim and was competent in water at a vey early age but when the child accidentally fell in he panicked and drowned. So keep up with the lessons. My third child somehow managed to teach herself. I remember being called into the bathroom when she was 3 to find that she'd filled the tub with cold water and was floating in it. "look at me, Mum!!" Two days later at the local pool she followed me into the deep end, paddling away like a little puppy.

    September 11, 2007 at 5:16 PM  

  2. lightening said...

    I share your frustration Kin. Our closest indoor pool is an hour and a half from here and I have very reluctant swimmers. We rely on pools that offer intensive school holiday lessons and they seem to be getting harder and harder to come by. We've been madly making phone calls the past few weeks trying to work out what we're going to do and how far we'll need to go to find such a program for the kids.

    September 12, 2007 at 6:08 PM  

Post a Comment