A few blogs ago (Oliver Octopus) I wrote about Ollie’s first swimming experience at Pontins, since then he’s been having swimming lessons. He’s so cute and guess what… He can swim! Well, basically he can! He’s been going for 5 weeks now and it’s a really good specialist baby class. He’s goes to Making Waves in Bromsgrove. It’s a custom built pool for teaching kids to swim so it’s always 32 degrees and it’s about 1.2m deep so I can stand up but it’s a nice depth for kids.
In the first couple of lessons he just floated around, with me holding him and we have to pour a cup of water over their head to teach them to breathe under water. I hated doing it at first but he’s really not bothered by it. They use floats to put them in a swimming position and help them learn to kick their legs. In the first couple of lessons he didn’t really kick but he really goes for it now!
There’s only a maximum of 7 babies in the class, moms (or dads) get in with the babies and the instructor uses a doll to show us what to do. On his third lesson we did a submersion! I was scared! I can’t cope being under water but babies are meant to instinctively know how to breathe but they lose the ability after 6 months if they don’t use it so it’s really good to teach them young! Obviously they can learn later on but they’re not scared at this age.
The instructor takes turns to put the babies under water and they have to swim to their mommy. The first time she put Ollie under I was shocked because he just kicked to me! It really wasn’t far, probably just over a foot away but he really kicked underwater and when he got to me I lifted him out. I’m so glad he’s going at this age, he’s going to be swimming lengths by the time he’s about 3 with no armbands or anything! I was such a wimp about swimming when I was a kid, well I still am to be honest!
If you’re interested in taking your baby swimming, there are a few things you can do to prepare them and test how they might react.
1. Blow on their face, the reflex reaction that controls their breathing is the same underwater.
2. In the bath gently pour some water over the head. Try and get them to look at you and then say, “1,2,3…” Pour! And then yay good boy/ girl, well done! Lots of praise, just like training a dog!
3. Use bath toys. I mostly use a baby bath but sometimes I put him in our bath and put toys in there but out of reach to encourage him to move through the water.
If they cough when the water runs down their face it means they didn’t control their breathing properly or weren’t paying attention to you so make sure they’re really looking when you say 1,2,3 so they start to figure out what the hell is going on!
If they show any signs of distress when they’re in water I would recommend putting them in the bath with you! I think part of the reason why Ollie is so chilled out is because I’m chilled out and he trusts me. If you’re happy playing in water they’ll trust that there’s nothing to worry about. At first it was really hard for me because I was nervous because I’m scared but the instructor said I can’t show signs of being nervous because he’ll pick up on it and because I’m always chilled out I think he’d be scared if I was scared. I’m brave now!
I’m going to keep taking Ollie swimming, it’s nice having a little activity to do with him and this is a good life skill to have. Anyone in South Birmingham area, I highly recommend Making Waves! Anywhere else, it’s really worth looking for a specialist baby class, it is quite expensive but definitely worth it!