Warning: this post contains ‘parent feeling proud about child’ content.
When my daughter was a few months old we started taking her to a ‘babies go swimming’ class. The idea was to get her to be comfortable in the water and eventually learn to swim. It half worked. Freya loved being in the water and especially loved diving in. We would go every Saturday morning and follow it up with a trip to Borders. [pauses to remember Borders].
In all the time we did this she got happier and happier being in the water and better and better at diving in. What she never did was learn to swim. I used to joke that she would make the most tragic Olympic diver; executing a perfect dive and then drowning.
Years went by and nothing much changed. I tried to teach her but got nowhere. We hired a swimming coach and she made a tiny bit of progress. She made a fine job of swimming underwater but not that all important, lifesaving, swimming on the surface. On holidays in Wales we’d be in the sea every day, sometimes twice a day, but she never moved on.
Learning to swim isn’t the most vital thing in the world. We live a long way from the sea and tend not to go boating. It frustrated me though that she loved the water so much and at seven years old was still unable to do the thing that would make her love of water make more sense.
On Sunday we went to a pool in Oxford and I decided to give her one more try myself. I nagged and cajoled and, just about to give up, asked her to try one more time with the technique the swim coach had suggested. She gave up after four strokes and then so did I.
Then she swam across the width of the pool. I couldn’t believe it. I told her I was very proud of her and praised her effort then I shut up and waited. She did it again. And then again and again. We’d been in the water for a while at this point so I suggested getting out for a snack. No, she said, I want to swim more. She kept going and going. Twelve widths before getting tired.
Of course, this isn’t really a ‘isn’t my child great’ post. She’s seven and most of her contemporaries picked up swimming a long time ago. Part of the reason things took so long is because she has a lazy and stubborn streak in her, just like me. That said, I’m still delighted to see her enjoying something so positive.