A continuation of our baby swimming series of articles. These articles follow lessons that get babies used to water and teach them to swim from a very early age. Taking advantage of the natural affinity they have with water before it is lost.
There were two new techniques in this lesson, one was pretty exciting but more about that later! The first one was teaching our babies to hold onto the side of the pool. I'm assuming there is something to hold onto at the side of your local pool, today there was a thick metal bar. Most pools I've been to have a bar, or lip at the side of the pool for you to hold onto.
You are in the pool facing the bar, you put your baby on your knee also facing the bar. My knees were actually touching the side wall of the pool. You place their hands onto the bar or lip so they can grip on (their hands are so tiny, and look too small to hold the bar, but we are just getting them used to it at this stage). You place your hands on top of their hands to help them grip and keep your hands on top. Then you remove your knee as support and tell them to hold on. You keep repeating 'hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on' the whole time from when you remove your knee as support. Remember you still have your hands on theirs so they can't fall.
You are probably going to need some help the first few times, particularly if your baby is very small like Amélie. Perhaps you can get your partner to give you a hand. On my turn the instructor helped place Amélie's hands on the bar and put her hands over hers. I held her and she was on my knee, when I removed my knee I still supported her by her waist a little.
I'm sure you can play around with your own technique, I don't always follow the instructions to the letter. So long as the end result is the same I adjust the technique to suit myself and Amélie. For example in Swim Position you are supposed to have your arms fully outstretched and straight. Well I have a shoulder injury and find that painful, so I bend my elbows a little which makes it easier on my shoulder. I just position myself a little lower in the water than everyone else, and change my grip a little to compensate and get her in exactly the same position as the other babies.
Next was something I found fun. You will know from the other articles about the stationary underwater swim. You always have hold of your baby with that move, this time you get to let go of them! You have your back to the side wall, baby held out in front of you in swim position. You do the usual 'Amélie ... Ready ... Go', then a little pause and you pull them towards you and down under the water. Once they are under the water you let them go and move your arms and hands apart (like breast stroke) until they are level with your shoulders (your body will make the shape of a capital T) and you touch the side wall with your hands. Then you can bring them (your arms) back in front of your body to hold your baby and bring them up and out of the water for a hug.
Before we started we were told what may happen. They may float up to the surface, they may turn over on their back, they may just stay in the same position, or they may sink (in which case you can just reach in and pull them up). I was determined to make sure Amélie was well under water before I let go, and I wasn't going to rush the part where I move my hands away. I wanted her to get a good spell under the water.
We took a video of this which I've not had chance to look at, but if it's good I'll publish it in one of the next articles. When I let go she floated there, underwater, eyes open, it was great. When I lifted her up and out she did have a little splutter, I thought she might even cry but she didn't and was happy to carry on with the rest of the lesson. She even did a moving underwater swim a few minutes later so it obviously hadn't bothered her too much.
I watched another baby do it, and when she came out of the water she looked thrilled. I was disappointed Amélie didn't enjoy it as much, but I'm sure she will eventually. I remember my mum taking me swimming as a kid and I hated putting my face in the water, she's already more comfortable in the water than I was at that age and she's only 12 weeks old.
Next we did the underwater swim where the instructor takes the baby for a little swim, turns round back to face you, lets you say 'Amélie ... Ready ... Go' and then performs the underwater swim, passing her to you under the water. Well this time she let go of Amélie underwater so she kind of swam to me underwater. I didn't expect this, I think I must have been distracted when she had told us. It seemed perfectly natural though, the instructor had her arms either side and did it very carefully. She also had good eye contact with me to make sure I had caught hold of her OK at the other end.
The image at the start of this article shows that moment when she let go and I was ready to catch. I'm to the left out of frame and the instructor is to the right. If you look carefully you can see Amélie is quite happy under the water and has her eyes open and is looking to the right of the picture. I've shown another picture here zoomed in more on her face.
That's all the new stuff this week, we have 4 lessons left this term and have booked another 10 swimming lessons for next term. By Christmas Amélie will have had 10 swimming lessons, and still only be 4 months old. I've heard that soon we have to take goggles because we will get to go underwater with our babies which sounds like fun. I'll report back in a weeks time on our next lesson, until then happy swimming.