Perseverance in the Pool

4 Jun

We have spent a gazillion dollars on swim lessons.  No, really.  We started at the YMCA two summers ago and went every Saturday for 6 weeks.  J3 learned how NOT to put his head in the pool and how to goof off while waiting his turn in the minnow pit. 

We spent a lot of time in the pool that spring and summer, playing around and getting used to the water, but I was too pregnant to really get excited about it, and we ended up actually filling in the pool in our backyard that fall. However, we live in the South and swimming is a fun thing to do here, with the pool being a major gathering place for socializing and birthday parties, and I feel like it is one of those “essential skills” that my children need to learn to do.  If nothing else, I want them to survive if they fall into the water.  I do not want to bring potential drowning victims near water.

So…the next summer we signed up for private lessons in the spring, to prepare for the summer ahead.  J3 was the only child who couldn’t put his head under the water by the end of the course. By then everyone assured me that joining our neighborhood swim team was the way to go.  Just practicing with the swim team would get him interacting with the other kids his age, and before we knew it, he’d be like a fish, they said.  No competition was necessary; at his age, if they wanted to swim in the meets that was fine, but if not, no big deal.  By this time I had two younger children at home and simply couldn’t watch everyone at the pool.  So I got sitters everyday for my younger girls, and off we went, four days a week to the pool for an hour for swim team.

For three weeks J3 perfected the art of getting in the water –every day–but keeping his head dry.  He’d do the kick drills, the hold your breath underwater drills, glide across the pool drills.  But his head would not go under.  Mind you, his neck may have grown 6 inches from stretching, but little boy was not getting that face wet!

The last couple of weeks we saw a bit of improvement.  With the help of some dive rockets and his friends’ encouragement, he got semi-comfortable going underwater.  He was unable to join the rest of his friends in kicking across the pool, but at least by the end of the summer I knew if he fell into the water he wasn’t going to panic.  For the rest of the summer we set up a few more private lessons to keep his confidence up and keep him in the water.  More dollars, more perseverance.  More pooltime.  No swimming yet.

Here we are again this summer, back at swim team.  We had a couple of private lessons before swim team began.  The first week is almost over.  We are paying the babysitters again daily to avoid littlte sisters wandering off into water they can’t navigate while big brother learns to swim (next year we will start with lessons for Boo.)  The first couple of days J3 was again exhibiting the art of kicking and diving into the pool without actually diving IN.  He left swim team pratice with a dry head both days.  The first day he saw how good the other kids can swim and he came to me half way through the practice, crying, I want to go home!  We did not go home. I really hate making him do something that isn’t fun, but I do believe this is a survival skill that he needs to learn.  Truly, I don’t care how well he swims, and if he doesn’t enjoy it after learning the skill, we can quit, but I do want him to learn the skill.

The third day, after a lot of discussion, and a couple of intense private lessons, he actually started off with his head legitimately in the water!  This day, my sweet little boy kicked his hardest, flailed his arms, and ducked his head intotthe water….all to no avail.  He’d go backwards, sideways, and even under, but the poor thing would not glide forwards!  They even took him aside for extra kick practice in the little pool (much to his chagrin) but even that didn’t make a lot of improvement. 

We are not looking at a swim scholly nor an Olympic future here.

But you know what?  Here he was, the worst–I mean rock bottom worst–swimmer in the pool of 100 kids, and I was literally BURSTING with pride yesterday.   Little man jumped in, again, and again, and again, and he kicked and kicked his little heart out.  They’d coach him to straighten his legs (flutter!), to relax his feet (like flippers~ they’d say!), to tuck his head (down, not out!), to relax (this is fun!), to keep trying, J3!  And bless his sweet heart–he did it!  Every. Single. Time. With a look of determination on his face.  He wasn’t even angry or frustrated.  Just determined to Do it. 

Really, I thought sleeping through the night was a breeze, and potty training was easy, and reading seems to be coming pretty naturally so far.  But this swimming thing is killing me.

If we don’t learn to swim, we will certainly have learned a very important lesson from all of this.  Character building is tough.  But it makes a mama proud.  And if this is any indication of what kind of man my boy is going to be, I know he has a bright, bright future ahead.  (It just might not be in swimming!)

James 1:12:  “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial for he will receive many blessings.”

One Response to “Perseverance in the Pool”


  1. J3: Swim Team « - September 24, 2010

    […] Last summer J3 learned to swim.  It was…well, kinda painful.  […]

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