When my daughter told me that she intended to take my granddaughter to swimming lessons, I was a bit taken aback. After all, the baby was only two months old and, not being particularly keen on swimming myself, I wondered how she would react to the cold water. My daughter asked me to go with her for the first swimming lesson, not to swim, but to help with the baby in the changing rooms and, I must admit, I was really curious as to what it was all about.
On the following Tuesday morning I met up with my daughter and granddaughter and we set off for the pool. Baby was wide awake and looking a bit hungry – for health and hygiene reasons you’re not to give any food for at least two hours before the swimming lesson (imagine a pool full of babies spitting up milk).
When we arrived at the building my daughter set off for the changing rooms with her swimsuit and towel while I undressed the baby as she lay in the pram and changed her into a tiny swimming costume. Then it was into the pool with about eight other young mums with babies of various sizes and ages. The instructors explained that the pool was specially heated for these baby swim sessions and that the lessons were for parents with babies only – the pool is not open to the public at lesson times.
I watched in fascination as all the mums and babies entered the pool and the mums started to swish the babies around in the water as instructed. Everything was very gentle – the babies had water slopped onto their faces so they would get used to the feel of it. There were songs and rhymes – it all looked like great fun. The session ended after 30 minutes – they reckon that’s enough for young babies and it stops them from getting too cold.
I helped my daughter in the changing rooms – I dried and dressed baby while my daughter sorted herself out. She then had to breastfeed as baby was really hungry after all the excitement – once fed, she slept for a full four hours which was the longest she’d ever slept until then!
My granddaughter is now six months old and a couple of weeks ago she floated on her back unsupported and last week swam on her front for a couple of strokes. I’m pretty sure that by the age of 18 months, this little one will swim like a mermaid. As my daughter rightly says – teaching them to swim so young means that if they ever fall into the water they’ll be able to swim and get themselves out – a great way of avoiding a pool tragedy. So – the younger they learn to swim the better as far as I’m concerned.