As of my last update, the lessons hadn’t been going too well. Anna was still suffering from some separation anxiety, and although her screaming had diminished, she still didn’t enjoy swimming. At all.
Now, as summer winds to an end, I am happy to announce that her lessons are going much better, and she actually seems to enjoy them! No more screaming, no crying, no coaxing or forcing her into the pool, and she actually speaks fondly of the lessons afterwards.
The breakthrough actually occurred far from the pool where my kids take lessons. It happened at a campground on our way back from a trip to Sequoia. We had promised our son some time in the pool, so we got our daughter Anna suited up as well. At first she was apprehensive, no doubt because of her negative swimming lesson experience.
But once we got in the water she refused to get out, despite the fact that the water was cold enough to turn her lips blue. I think the difference is that she realized it was possible to be in the water with people other than her instructor. (Yes, we live in Southern California. Yes, we have numerous pools at our disposal. No, I’ve never taken her to one.) She realized that swimming can be fun! It also helped that she had a new bathing suit and kept saying that she wanted to tell her instructor, Robert, about it at her next lesson.
She happily splashed around with me, kicking and laughing and yelling at her dad to look at her. After about 10 minutes I finally had to force her out because the water was just really, really cold.
But at her next lesson, Anna was genuinely excited. She showed Robert her new bathing suit and told him how we went swimming at the campground. Since then, she has done great, even allowing Robert to take her under water a few times, and coming up smiling.
I am relieved that we have cleared a major hurdle. It will still be a long time until she’s able to swim on her own, but she’s learning new skills each week, and happily taking it all in.