Today we switch from the baby swimming lessons to the toddler swimming lessons.
It was actually our 38th swimming lesson today. We have been taking our daughter since she was 6 weeks old. The first 20 lessons were the introductory baby swimming course. The next 9 were the intermediate, and the following 8 that we completed last week were the advanced course.
Today we began the 'toddler swimming lessons' course as a progression from the baby swimming. I could have kept the titles going as baby swimming lesson 38, then 39 etc. but our daughter is 13 months old now and better described as a toddler than a baby. Therefore baby swimming lesson 38 is replaced with toddler swimming lesson 1.
From the very first lesson of baby swimming, I've come home after each lesson and posted an article detailing the lesson. We were hoping it would be a good resource firstly for those wishing to teach their baby to swim, but were unable to attend formal lessons. Secondly we hoped it would compliment even those who attend formal lessons, the parents could compare experiences and read ahead to see what to expect. Finally we thought it may be useful for parents to read the articles to decide if baby swimming lessons were worthwhile for them.
It is in that spirit that we continue the tradition with the toddler swimming, so I'll be posting an article after every lesson. As I've said already 'toddler swimming' isn't a discrete discipline to 'baby swimming'. It's just a progression, so you may need to reference some of the 'baby swimming' articles to catch up on many of the techniques used in 'toddler swimming'.
So with the explanations over I'll get onto today's lesson which started off with some strangeness. This morning I'd slept in after a late night working, and as usual we were a couple of minutes late for the lesson. I didn't recognise anyone in the lesson so thought we may have got our timetable wrong. It was quite eerie actually, no one from our group was there, it was like one of those films where half the town had disappeared overnight.
Clare interrupted the lesson to ask if there had been some mix-up, and was told the lessons were delayed 15 minutes this morning. Coincidentally no one in our group had turned up so it looked as though it was just myself and Amélie today.
Someone else from our group turned up 10 minutes late so at least there were 2 of us. I had expected a totally different set of routines, but what we got was mainly made up of what we had already done in the advanced baby swimming lessons. We skipped the usual 'name ... ready ... go ...' face splashing, something we had done in all over the baby swimming lessons. We did however do the bouncing around, and splashing and splashing that we usually start with.
Next we did 'if you're happy and you know it', the instructor sings the song and the kids play along with the actions. The 3 actions are 'clap your hands', 'wave your hand', and 'splash your hands'. After this the instructor takes your baby for a little swim to meet the other babies (today a grand total of 1) and then performs a '1 2 3 swim'.
All of these routines are outlined in the 'baby swimming' articles, but basically the instructor pushes your baby back and forward towards you on the surface of the water 3 times. The 3rd time she lets go and you let your baby try and swim towards you on the surface of the water for a few seconds before catching them.
Following this were some 'humpty dumpties'. Here you sit your baby on the side of the pool, arms around their back (in case they slip backwards), and you say the rhyme. At the end your baby slides themselves forwards and splashes into the water. You can give them a nudge to encourage them if you like.
After the first one we did a width of bouncing, after the second we did a width of splishing and splashing, after the 3rd we did a length of side holding swim position, then turned around for another length of swimming with a '1 2 3 hold on' at the end. This is like the '1 2 3 swim' but you do it a short distance away from the side of the pool and when you let go your baby reaches out and holds onto the side of the pool.
Next out came the woggles for the woggle assisted swim. The image is from a previous lesson, you can see she is chasing a ball in the picture but today she was chasing a little floating space ship. The idea was to get her to blow with her mouth in the water, so I blew the space ship to show her what to do. After this we did horsey horsey using the woggle.
After with we did chasing the ball, then did a solo underwater swim through a hoop to retrieve the ball. You throw a ball through a hula hoop, the instructor then submerges the hoop, and you set your baby swimming under the water through the hoop, picking them up at the other side to go chase the ball. [The picture is from last weeks lesson].
After that we did the routine where you pass your baby to the instructor who is sitting on the side of the pool. You say 'name ... ready ... splash ...' and she throws your baby into the pool for you to retrieve. This time we had our babies throw the ball into the pool before they splashed in and once they did splash in we chased the ball. We did this 3 times.
We used the hoop again for a glide swim. This is where you swim underwater with your baby held out in front of you. I let her go when we reached the hoop, but I sent her a bit off course. It was interesting to see her correcting herself and swimming through the hoop under the water.
Then it was time for the holiday swim. As I've come to expect now she held on very well for a full width, but fell off when I swam under the water. After the holiday swim we did some back to chest kicking. This is where you move backwards with your baby resting on your chest, your baby is on their back and you encourage them to kick their legs. Every so often you spin around, and we end the routine by facing another parent and baby pair and splashing each other.
Then came surfing with the red teddy floats. Your baby lies on the teddy on their chest as you hold onto both them and the float. You then move around surfing left and right, and over the bridge (lift them up and splash down into the water) all to the tune of 'Hawaii 5 0'.
Next a makeshift bridge/tunnel was made using a stack of teddy floats as a pillar and a bigger float as the bridge. We set our babies off to do a solo surface swim through under the bridge. This is the first time we have done this routine, but we have done the surface swim before. It's just like a '1 2 3 swim' without the '1 and 2'. You just launch your baby forward on the surface of the water and let go. The first picture show us this morning doing the move, and was taken an instant after I let go.
I've done a close up picture, you can just make out her purple trunks under the water to the left and her head held above the water in the middle next to the red teddy floats. The instructor was standing at the other side of the bridge to collect her as she swam through. We did this a few times, but Amélie was particularly lazy today and didn't put much effort into the swim through.
In the next picture she is almost through the bridge, but has gone under the surface. She usually kicks her legs and paddles with her hands much more during surface swims. The laziness was apparent again later, during the routines with the bigger float. We did 3 wibble wobbles on the big float (baby sits on float with legs facing out while the float is wobbled until they eventually fall off), and 3 row row row your boats (the same but different rhyme and legs are facing in).
After this was the routine where they climb from the water onto the float, stand up, and then walk off the float. We did this 3 times and all 3 Amélie put no effort into climbing on. At home we can't stop her climbing onto the sofa, the bed, the coffee table, chairs, and whatever else she can find to climb.
The final routine was 'the grand old duke of York' which is tiring for the parent. You know the rhyme, during 'when they were up they were up' you hold your baby high up in the air, during 'when they were down they were down' you lower them back into the water, and during 'half way up' you hold them ... well ... half way up of course.
It's the part where it goes 'and when they are only half way up they are neither up nor down' that is the killer! That's 1 up, 1 down and 1 halfway up in about 2 seconds. After the rhyme is over you say 'name ... ready ... go ...' and then you sit on the bottom of the pool with your baby and release them to float back up to the top.
Then after a high five from the instructor the lesson was over. Most of these routines are covered in the baby swimming articles if you want to reference them in more detail. We also have a diagrams section which we are building on, eventually we should have most of the positions and routines covered in there. We have our next lesson in a week and as always I'll try and post the article the same day.