I’m a huge advocate of encouraging your kids to love – or at least not fear – the water from an early age. I guess that’s hardly surprising as someone who has done swimming lessons with their kid for the best part of 2.5 years. For me, knowing that Toddler L is confident, happy and safe in and around what can be a very dangerous thing is really important.
We started Water Babies swimming lessons with the then Baby L at around eight months old – we’re now just about to start Chapter 10. Taking her swimming is genuinely one of the best decisions we’ve made and one we will be repeating when our second kid enters the world in 2018.
I’ve written about our experiences of Water Babies swimming lessons multiple times – take Chapter 1 & 2, Chapter 4 and Chapter 7, for example. Something I’ve never really touched on though is her exuberant water confidence outside of lessons. I guess that’s because I’ve not noticed it until recently – for starters, we’ve never really made a habit of doing anything more than our weekly swimming lessons!
However, due to circumstance and situation, the last six months has seen us have more opportunities for splashy based fun outside of lessons – and the results have massively surprised me. I think this also ties in with her age as the older she gets, the easier it is to do stuff in the water, for instance, not having to consider nappies due to potty training. Let me give you a couple of examples of where I’ve seen this confidence outside of lessons.
Back in July, we visited Splash Landings Waterpark at Alton Towers. At a month shy of her third birthday, this was her first experience of an actual waterpark. With the size of the place, the vast number of people and the deafening echo of gallons of gushing water, screams and laughs, I expected her to be a little intimidated. After all, this is a far cry from a normal, safe, structured swimming lesson.
However, she was in her element and took to water like the proverbial duck that she appears to be. I mean, here’s a little nipper who had so much water confidence in the pool that Jaws himself would probably feel a little intimidated by her presence – you know, if he hadn’t been blown up. Or wasn’t fictional.
Either way, my point is that she was more than happy to swim on her own (with a float jacket), jump in from the side, go underwater, play with the fun equipment and even lay down for an incoming tidal wave. That’s not the type of stuff a kid not comfortable with water would do. And I can 100% guarantee that she’s like that because of swimming lessons.
Fast forward to last month when we went to Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool. Considering that she’d barely had any time in the pool since July due to swimming lessons finishing over summer, you’d forgive her for being a little out of practice. However, it was like she’d never been out of the water.
She had the same confidence, bravery and enthusiasm – if possible, maybe even a little bit more. As she was swept away in the river rapids giggling her head off, I was so chuffed that we stuck with swimming during the difficult water wobble days. It would have been easy to give up, but it felt like something we needed to battle through – seeing that love for water and confidence in the pool confirmed it was the right decision.
All kids are different and I don’t intend to compare – after all, children develop at different rates. But, it’s clear to see the difference between a toddler who does swimming lessons and one that doesn’t. With the (occasional) sunny day this year, we’ve been to a couple of splash parks. Something I noticed was just how independent Toddler L was compared to her peers.
As other toddlers held their parent’s hand or flat out refused to go near the sprinklers and fountains, the sprog was right in there with no persuasion. In a sneak preview of what my life will be like with a teenage daughter, she actively discouraged me from joining her. I was relegated to the sidelines. Sure, pretty disheartening when your kid doesn’t want you, but also fantastic to see water confidence and ability to do everything on her tod!
It was the same story at Butlins in their outside splash park. Going down slides, climbing on obstacles, pulling herself along on her belly – all done with self-assurance and an understanding of safety. It really was awesome to see, and again, is something that would not exist without putting in the hours in the pool in the structured environment that is swimming lessons.
What the recent months have shown me is that there is so much more to swimming lessons than just learning to swim. It’s all of those little skills, abilities and attributes that develop alongside the actual act of swimming. These can often go unnoticed, but the older she gets, the more I’m seeing other benefits of swimming in everyday life – confidence around water outside of lessons is just one of them.
Have you done swimming lessons with your baby / toddler? Have you noticed a similar water confidence outside of lessons – particularly when compared to non-swimming peers? Let me know below!
Disclosure: We receive complimentary Water Babies lessons in exchange for sharing our swimming experiences.