Boom! And just like that, we’ve finished Chapter 11 of Water Babies. It’s been fun, it’s been challenging, it’s been wet and it’s been emotional. Prior to starting the next chapter though, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on and review Chapter 11.
The last Water Babies review I wrote was actually this time last year when we’d just finished Chapter 7, so now feels like a good time to write another one. Reading back over that post shows me just how much she’s advanced during the last year. On a weekly basis, it’s difficult to see that change – it’s only when you look back over months and years that you realise how far she’s come.
Just like in previous chapters, the format for Chapter 11 is exactly the same – a 30 minute, pool-based, instructor-led class which uses a combination of fun songs, activities and exercises. Our class consisted of six or seven kids (and their parents). At 3.5 years old, L is the oldest and arguably the most advanced in the water, but all of the children are of a similar ability.
At this point in the Water Babies journey, the baby days are well behind us. In fact, I’d argue that the toddler days are basically behind us too. The emphasis now is very much on continuing to build independence and confidence, but also teaching them the correct skills for swimming.
For instance, there’s more of a focus on ensuring that they’re kicking with straight legs when swimming, rather than the ad-hoc, flailing approach which was adequate in past lessons – and I don’t just mean me.
As the entire Water Babies swimming journey is progressive, Chapter 11 has been the culmination of the hard work that L and her chums have put in from previous chapters. This means that everything is familiar in terms of language, activities and swimming aids, but that there’s always new challenges to be tackled and things to look forward to.
Each lesson during Chapter 11 has revolved around a theme. By this, I mean that one week the focus is on, say, long, straight bodies, the next is focused on breathing and the one after is all about getting in and out of the pool. As such, the activities we’ve done in those lessons are relevant to that theme.
Let me give you an example. For the lesson that focused on entering and exiting the pool, we did activities such as:
- Getting out of the pool, standing on the edge, jumping in, turning around in the water, then swimming back and holding onto the wall.
- Standing on the parent’s knee in the water, then jumping up and diving into the water to pick up dive sticks from the bottom of the pool.
- Holding onto the side of the pool, pushing off with their feet and gliding through the water like a torpedo.
- Getting out of the pool, standing on the edge, jumping in, swimming to the parent, holding onto their neck / back and then both swimming under water.
- Sitting on the mat singing “Row your boat”, then rolling backwards off the mat and into the water by themselves, like a scuba diver.
Although some are more obvious than others, each of the above points take a particular element of entering / exiting the pool and turn it into an activity. What’s more, these activities build on and combine skills that have been learnt previously – for instance, pushing off from the side of the pool or jumping in unaided.
During Chapter 11, there’s also been some things that L and the other kids have done that are pretty impressive – again, stuff you couldn’t have imagined during the earlier chapters. For instance, they’ll swim underneath the mat from the teacher to the parent, jump off the mat through a hoop, swim through a hoop underwater and even float independently in the water on front and back.
The most impressive thing though is that L can actually swim in the water unaided now. She’s been doing bits here and there since Chapter 9 and 10, but the last few weeks have really seen her take a few steps – or should that be strokes (?!) – forward.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of swimming to date has been with support – whether that’s a parent holding or through the use of a pool noodle / Bubba float. In Chapter 11 though, the children have been tasked to do longer distances with the floats – such as swimming the entire pool length in a race – and many more activities where they are completely unaided in the water.
We’re actually at a point now where L is swimming independently on her own. I haven’t got my tape measure out for an accurate reading – mainly because I don’t have pockets in my swimming shorts – but I’d estimate that L has swam 4 metres on her front and around 8 metres on her back unaided.
Obviously, at this age, swimming lessons are so much more than teaching them to swim, but it’s fantastic to actually see L swimming on her own. This often takes the form of pushing off from me and swimming to the wall (or vice versa), with her head underwater and using her legs to kick and arms to pull herself forward. It’s incredible to witness.
Like I mentioned earlier, this is where we’re now starting to look at the techniques to swim properly, for instance, by having a straight body, arms and legs. I imagine that this type of teaching will feature more and more as we journey into Chapter 12.
So, that’s a review of Water Babies Chapter 11. To summarise, it’s very much the same ‘feel’ as previous chapters, but the children are achieving more impressive feats each and every week as they get older and more confident. It continues to be a fun class, with many benefits and one we both look forward to each week!
Liked this? Then you may also like my other swimming based posts such as 4 mistakes to avoid when swimming with a toddler, baby swimming versus toddler swimming and 4 things I’ve learnt from baby swimming lessons.
N.B. We receive complimentary Water Babies swimming lessons in exchange for sharing our swimming experiences.