Swimming Lessons

Petunia swam on her own for the first time last night. Our three year old jumped off the diving board and swam to the side of the pool under her own power. Three times. Whoopee.

Both Petunia and Fresh have been able to swim short distances on their own for several weeks, but neither had developed the capability to come up for a breath and keep on swimming. Petunia, age three, swims as if she’s jogging underwater — clearly more to learn there on the technique — like the little engine that could. Just as you think you might want to reach in and give her a hand, she pokes her little head out just enough to gasp a breath and go back to work. Maybe it was Heidi’s and my willingness to hold off on coming to her aid for a second or two more to see if she could do it herself that put her over the top. Hmm…. A lesson in parenting there.

Fresh is not yet so motivated to learn. Fresh is older and bigger than Petunia at age five. His larger size is his limitation so far. Since he can stop and stand anywhere in the shallow end, he hasn’t needed to figure out how to breathe while swimming. He just plants his feet and breathes. Of course this makes perfect sense to do — why work so hard at breathing while swimming when you can just stop, stand, and breathe? Fresh’s greater mobility around the shallow end means he is less motivated to venture into places where he cannot stand. Fresh has less motivation to stray from his comfort zone. Petunia has no comfort zone, so to speak, so she learned how to swim.

And the key for both of them is to learn how to come up for a breath in the midst of the activity.

(Olivia will just jump into the pool and swim-wiggle with every bit of faith that she can already swim. No fear there at all. Gotta watch her every second.)

So my question is, who’s teaching who here? A guy can (re)learn a lot about life whilst teaching his kids to swim.

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