This summer, Clay is taking his third year of swim lessons. So by now, you would think he could swim, right? Yeah, me too!
The first year he was barely two and I hired a local lifeguard to give him private lessons at our community pool. Avery was a few weeks old, and I wasn’t getting much sleep, so when I sent a photo of Clay at his first lesson to my girlfriends (who are all happily married) they replied not about how cute Clay looked, but about the teacher. How did I not notice he was cute? Blame it on sleep deprivation and the fact I just wanted the tan, toned 22-year-old to teach my kid to swim. He did okay when “Hot Swim Teacher” bribed him with pool toys, but otherwise he preferred to hang onto the wall or sit on the steps.
Last summer, we tried an indoor swim school, which our neighbors had raved about. Clay was terrified. He was reluctant to let go of his teacher. At first we thought it was sweet, maybe he just had a crush on her. But the death grip around her neck was not of the “I just want to be close to you” variety. The two girls in his class caught on much faster than he did. The girls moved up a level, Clay did not. Then we quit. Even at three, he just wasn’t ready. It was a fight to get him to go, it was expensive and it took up time I would rather spend in places that didn’t smell like chlorine.
I thought this year was going to be our year: he’s four, he’ll get it. We switched to a new swim school, at our local Boys & Girls Club. The water is warm and other kids are there playing and having fun, so I think it is less scary. They also strap this floaty thing onto the kids’ backs, removing one bubble at a time, until they can swim on their own. That gave him more confidence in the water, and he will come off the wall on his own, put his face in the water, stroke and kick. So that’s progress. My one complaint (besides the bathrooms smelling like pee – ick!) is they have substitute teachers a lot. Whenever the teacher changes we waste time discussing his skill level . I guess college kids are flaky or take off to Europe with their parents, so what can we do? And I wonder when lifeguards started wearing bikinis? Those are not the ugly one pieces I remember working at the pool as a teenager!
At this point, if he fell into water, I don’t think he’d drown, but he certainly won’t be joining the swim team anytime soon. Which I guess is okay, but in a family that spends a lot of time around water, I really don’t want him still needing a bubble when he’s 10. On the bright side, even when he’s hanging on the wall, he looks pretty cute in his goggles…