Swim Please!

December 21, 2010

Teeny, tiny itsy bitsy swimmers

Filed under: my ducklings, swimming — Tags: , , — maybe an idealist @ 1:09 am

The longest term lesson I teach is also one of the youngest. The goal for the swimmers is dog paddle in 2012. Five of the kids are between 18 and 24 months; one is between 24 and 36 months. It will be a good lesson when no one cries. We stay sitting on the edge of the pool and one or two kids swim with me at a time. Ruth swam with me the previous spring. She is the oldest and the calmest of the group. She likes the water, doesn’t get scared by accidental submersion, and can propel herself when holding a barbell. Sarah likes to copy Ruth. She happily gets into the water with me, will kick if she’s seen Ruth kick, and will use her arms if Ruth is next to her using her arms. They do well enough if I tuck one under each arm. Mattie has been swimming since early infancy, but always in gradual entry pool. He was not happy with the sight of a different pool. Mark has unknown swimming experiences; the combination of strangers and a new place produced deafening screams. Luke, also of unknown abilities, was bouncing and falling over with excitement. He was all set with getting in, and getting in as many times as possible. He quickly got to kicking whenever held in the water. Johnny was screaming at the beginning of each week. On the third week, he only stopped screaming when I lifted him into the pool. The transformation was immediate. There was blessed silence. Once again, I could hear the sounds of the building, hear everyone else without anyone yelling. I propped Johnny on my chest and gently prompted him to kick his legs by moving his legs by his knees. He started kicking and shouting “I did it! I did it!!”

The magical tool for this group is a green watering can. Routine and distraction are the two big tools with the Perch age group. They are still all fascinated by the sensation of falling water. I work up to getting them into the water. I water their toes, working on identifying toes and feet. We go to knees, then to fingers, and then to arms. Once everyone is dampened, we actually start swimming. At the last lesson, Ruth had achieved coordinated and purposeful arm and leg movements, Mattie calmed down and willingly swims horizontally with support, Mark happily wiggled in the water, Luke is splashing, and Johnny is kicking and yelling “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!” Eventually, the watering can will lead to wet heads and wet faces. Eventually, wet heads will lead to underwater swimming and a kick driven stroke. Eventually, everyone will jump in, turn around, and swim back to the wall. Eventually, everyone will backfloat. Eventually, all six will follow me across the pool like so many ducklings, wobbly, bobbing, and curious, but swimming. This is indeed my longest range individual project.

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