While it’s not been quite a month since DadTalk opened his Swim School for 2, I’m happy to report that we had a major, major breakthrough over the last two evenings.
For the past few weeks now, I take turns holding each child’s hand as we submerge into the warm water to retrieve torpedoes from the pool bottom. Both kids keep their eyes clamped shut.
Lael quickly retrieves her orange torpedo from the lowest step on the stairs. Seth holds his nose with one hand as I guide his other to the blue torpedo that’s about 3 feet below.
Both then exit the pool and run 50 feet to dry their faces off on towels that I purposely keep far away. Every day I encourage them to try goggles, but they refuse.
For some reason, I decide that today I want to push Seth and Lael to the next level. My idea: I want them to swim a couple feet from the steps to me.
Although I do not believe in bribes as a motivator, I’ve made an exception when it comes to swimming lessons. Learning to swim is an essential skill, as far as I’m concerned, and if the kids want to partake in other water activities.
While chocolates persuaded my kids to dunk their faces, I needed a stronger motivator for the next step. I use my trump card: I’ll only let them watch a new Little Einsteins video if they swim out to me. (I don’t know why, but both kids love that show.)
Lael flat-out refuses, with much crying. She insists on the video without swimming to me. Seth desperately wants the video, but fear wins.
I now have two crying children and every pool denizen accusing me with their hostile stares of drowning my kids. Sigh.
I need to reset the mood, so we switch to swimming around the pool on noodles. Seth and Lael calm down.
When we get back, I offer another deal: If they twice retrieve the torpedoes with open eyes underwater, they can watch Little Einsteins. Lael dunks her head and says “Done.” I’m not really sure if her eyes were open.
I talk Seth into getting his goggles. We put them on, and he goes for the torpedo with my usual help. Seth surfaces with a touch of excitement. “I could see the torpedo!” I persuade a still-not-convinced-it’s-safe Seth to go down the second time. Shortly afterward we go home for the day.
After futzing with Seth’s goggles, we go for our first underwater dip. Seth quickly retrieves the torpedo three times for his maximum-allowed three chocolate kisses.
Unlike Sunday night, I don’t go down with Seth. Instead, I hold his torso and push him into the water so he can find and retrieve the torpedo.
Next thing I know, Seth is going, “Again! Again!”
So we put the torpedo on the bottom step and Seth, one hand on his nose, starts swimming down! Lael and I get splashed horribly as Seth kicks and kicks and kicks, but has trouble getting his buoyant body to go down.
Seth retrieves the torpedo on his for the first time. Within minutes, he’s going down over and over and over. Soon, Seth is retrieving three torpedoes at once from 3-feet deep. He even tries 4 and 5 feet a couple times.
In fact, for the rest of our evening at the pool, Seth is diving/competing with another, more experienced boy. The light switch, after years and years of trying, finally switched on. (I promised to buy him a nose clip, btw.)
And because Lael is so competitive, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before she follows suit. I am both relieved and ecstatic.