When Toby was a baby I took him to swimming lessons for almost a year. We had some wobbles on the the whole it was really good, and it definitely gave me confidence to take him in the pool on my own when we were on holiday. But when Gabe was a baby, I also had a toddler to look after and so swimming lessons were something we just didn’t manage, and I’ve always felt a bit guilty about that. But now he’s two, and Toby is at school so we started looking around for toddler swimming lessons.
Toby goes swimming at our local YMCA pool, and he goes in the water without me. Those lessons don’t start until 3 years old though so we needed to find something else for Gabe. I knew there were companies like Turtle Tots who we swam with when Toby was a baby, and Puddle Ducks who I knew ran lessons locally, but I’d always assumed they were more for babies, or that older children needed to have been following their programme since they were tiny.
That is definitely not the case though. When I looked into further I found that Puddle Ducks offer classes for babies and pre-school children from 0-4 years old, and actually also have Swim Academy classes for children up to 10 years old too.
So I got in touch with Puddle Ducks West Lancs a couple of weeks ago and found Gabe could join the ‘Kickers’ class for toddlers aged 15-30 months, and happily there was space in a class at a pool just round the corner from us, and he could start the next day. Luckily we still had all Toby’s old swimming things so we were good to go!
Now, Gabe is not the best at trying new things so it was with some trepidation that we headed to the pool two weeks ago. He was fine going in but as I suspected might happen he started crying as soon as we got in a cubicle in the changing rooms. Gabe has only ever been swimming twice before and that was back in March when were on holiday at Bluestone. The first time we went to the pool there he cried getting changed but was fine once we were in the water so I was kind of hoping the same thing might happen.
No such luck though. He kept crying when we went through to the pool area. And he cried pretty much for the entirety of the 30 minute lesson which he spent sitting on the side of the pool, clinging on to me while I was in the water trying to encourage him to get in. Not the best start but to be honest I think he was just overwhelmed by the whole thing. We are doing our Puddle Ducks lessons at Ribby Hall which is actually a holiday resort (sort of like a small scale Center Parcs) and the pool area has flumes, slides, waterfalls and all sorts. The lessons take place in a sectioned off area of the main pool but the whole place was pretty noisy and I think Gabe was just freaked out by the whole thing.
Our Puddle Ducks teacher Leah was lovely though. She reassured me that this kind of reaction is very common, that it was best not to force him to get in the water if he didn’t want to, and that watching all the other children would hopefully encourage him to want to join in next time.
Gabe is such a monkey though. When we got out of the pool and went to get dressed he stopped crying. And this is him in the changing room having just said ‘me swimming, splash splash’ with a big grin on his face! He also got a sticker on the way out which he wore with great pride all day, as if he’d completely forgotten all the crying!
The following week we tried again, and it still wasn’t great but there were definitely some improvements. We didn’t have any tears getting changed, the crying only started when we went through to the pool. He did calm down much quicker, although still didn’t want to get in the water. I did try him in the pool a couple of times but he just screamed and screamed, so back we went to Gabe sitting on the side with me in the water. He did have his feet in the pool though, and was relatively calm particularly compared to the week before. He wasn’t clinging on to me, and we even managed a few smiles and giggles as he watched the other children swimming. Leah was very helpful again, and as she had another teacher with her this time, she was able to spend a bit of one on one time with us too.
We’ve now got two weeks off for half term so we’ll have to see how things go for week three in a few weeks time. We are definitely planning to go swimming as a family next week while we’re on holiday though. Toby loves his swimming, and Gabe copies everything Toby does, so hopefully seeing his big brother having fun in the water will be just the encouragement Gabe needs.
It would be easy to just give up after two weeks of crying but I think that swimming is a really important skill for little ones to learn, so we will persevere and hopefully another week or two and Gabe will be happy enough to get in the pool and join in. We’re going on holiday to France next summer and I really want both boys to enjoy spending time in the pool while we’re away. Swimming was always one of the best bits of family holidays for me as a child, and I want the same for my boys.
I’ll be keeping you updated on our progress with Puddle Ducks over the next few months, and hopefully next time I write we’ll have actually managed to get Gabe in the pool and joining in the class!
**Disclosure: We are being provided with Puddle Ducks swimming lessons in exchange for sharing our experiences here. As always all opinions are my own.