Tuesday, July 12, 2011

water baby p.s.a.

(Zach age 4 months)

Swimming is not a sport, or a pastime, or a summer thing. It's a life skill. But for some reason people spend more time and effort teaching their kids to ride a bike than swim. If your kid never learns to ride a bike, it's really no big deal. I don't ride. If your kid doesn't learn to swim, they could die. It's just that simple. Of course I have extra special interest in kids swimming because of this life we lead. I always joke that in our family you can learn to walk, talk, read, write all at your own pace. But you WILL be swimming by the time you're 2 years old. It's just how we roll here.
(Zach age 1 year)

I don't believe in "drown proofing" classes (in fact I think those are dangerously misleading.) I don't think there is any magic method to teaching a baby to swim. All it takes is 200% dedication on the part of the parents. When Zach was a tyke we did infant swim classes for about a year. Mostly because I hadn't a clue what I was doing. Once I got the hang of it (and "it" was just, repetition and fun like with learning anything) I just kept up on my own. We went to the pool EVERY week, 52 weeks a year, no matter what until he was about 3 years old. In the summer we swim every day. Once he was 3 I felt confident enough not to swim with him throughout the winter and that he would not lose any ground because of it. But we still went... a lot.
(Zach age 2 & Daddy in the ocean in Mexico)

Zach and his friends are like otters in the water, so natural and free flowing. And I have some opinions (take as you will) about how kids end up like this.
Aside from going and going and going, steer clear of floatation aids. Water wings, swim vests and the like are only useful when a parent is short handed with more than one little and needs to keep them safe. Other than that, the only thing they teach a kid is how to rely on something other than their own body for floatation. Babies and kids need to develop their core strength and figure out which parts of their little bodies need to work in order to keep their head above water. And finally... let go. The thing I see parents do more than anything is gently pass the little one from mom to dad like a delicate egg without ever letting the kid off anyone's hands. The great thing about pool is you can see the bottom. And you're usually teaching in 3-4 feet of water... let go. Just trust me on this one.

Ok, off the soap box and on to the cute pictures....
(yes she is underwater and dare I say smiling. she goes under all the time. from jumping in off the edge from a seated position to pushing off the steps to me about a foot away. it's perfectly natural for babies to kick and hold their breath. zach caught this shot while she was swimming to me.)

(Zach and Naia both love to play chase in the pool. Just one coo of "I'm gonna get the baby" or "Come and get big brother" and her chubby thighs start kicking like crazy.)

(cool splash made from Naia jumping in)
Naia is living up to her name (dolphin in Hawaiian and water sprite in various other languages) and she just adores the pool. We started her at 6 months, buying a pass to the local indoor pool unitl our marina pool opened. When our marina pool closes in September we'll buy a pass again and start our weekly trips all. year. long.
One more word on water safety. Even though Zach is a sea otter, we still require him to wear a PFD when playing on the docks or at anchor. And we always will. Nobody is a good swimmer when they fall in and on the way down hit their head, twist their leg, or bang up their arm. Safety first.

Now go swim with your kids.

p.s. all of the water pics were taken with a Fuji FinePix camera. correction, with Zach's Fuji FinePix camera. It also does video.
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