Today we got to go underwater with our babies. It was with some trepidation that I went into this the last lesson of the first term, as Amélie had not been enjoying the swimming lessons as much the last few times.
We managed the previous lesson without crying, one reason for this I think was avoiding the 'name .. ready .. go ..' scoop water on head technique. So this lesson I avoided it again, she had also become displeased with the swim position. As soon as I put her in swim position I felt her heart beat strong and fast like last time but she was not as uncomfortable and lasted much longer (a few widths of the pool). Soon she was looking uncomfortable so I stopped.
There were other techniques I tried and had to stop. These included holding onto the side, cradled head back stroke, and regular backstroke with the twinkling star hand. I gave them all a good go but had to stop and comfort her. Things were not looking good for the underwater part.
It's such a shame she doesn't enjoy swimming as much as she used to. When I first took her at 6 weeks old she was very passive and even fell asleep a few times during the lesson. She is now taking charge and has developed a great deal over the the last 10 weeks. She isn't going to lie there and do something she doesn't want to do.
At this stage she is being taught things that we adults want her to learn. She hasn't chosen to learn to swim underwater, back stroke, holding onto the side etc. I think as she develops further she may understand much more and actually want to swim and splash about for her own reasons. Some older babies are in the lesson after us, and they seem to have much more fun. Probably because they understand more.
There were a couple of babies this time that had a scream or little cry. I know it isn't good news for them but it made me feel a bit more 'normal'. The first underwater swim we did was a moving underwater swim. We were all following each other in a big circle in the pool and did it at the same time. I used to give Amélie a long, deep, dunk, but this time I only did a quick shallow dunk. When I said 'Amélie .. Ready .. Go ..' she took no notice of me, when she went underwater I don't think she was ready and she wasn't too happy when she came out.
I quickly distracted her and avoided tears, the next underwater swim we usually did by the side of the pool. This time we gathered around the instructor in a close circle, it actually looked pretty cool, like you see group skydiving. All the babies' legs were almost touching each other, we were counted in then it was 'Amélie .. Ready .. Go ..' and under the water all the babies went. I actually found it quite good fun.
Then we all lined up by the side of the pool and goggles were handed out. It was time to go underwater with our babies. The idea was that the instructor takes your baby for a little swim, turns around and comes toward you. You count your baby in with 'name .. ready .. go' and then dip under the water. The instructor submerges baby and baby swims to you under the water.
I expected Amélie to cry before the move and for us to miss out, but she was pretty comfortable. We were second in line, and looking good to go. First of all the instructor gave us some information about how we should dip underwater. I'll repeat it for you now as I think it could be quite useful.
Firstly don't take a deep breath in, better to breathe out before you go under. If you have lungs full of air you will float and find it hard to stay under. Secondly, you can use one or two hands on the bar or gutter to help you push yourself under. Lastly, it has been known for babies to be kicked by their Parent. She told us to cross our legs and not to put them out in front of us. I swim all the time and am very comfortable underwater, I decided not to cross my legs when she was giving the advice. However when it came to the move it did seem like the best way of doing it, so I did exactly as she said. I could see how easy it would be for your baby to be kicked.
The first baby to go started a full on cry even before they went under so they had to abort. The instructor said it could be because of the goggles Mum was wearing and I tend to agree. I was by now sure Amélie would start to cry. I'd just read an article on empathy in very young babies. If one cries then the other will, but if they hear a recording of a cry they don't (hence the conclusion that the reason they cry too, is empathy for the other crying baby).
She didn't cry, perhaps she lacks empathy or perhaps I got lucky. I hope the latter, but anyway I was soon counting her in 'Amélie .. Ready .. Go ..'. Then I was in the underwater world watching her swim underwater towards me. Her eyes were wide open and she was swimming, it seemed to last forever. She looked very calm but as she got closer I could see her expression was changing, we popped up to the surface and no great drama.
Soon the lesson and first term was over and Amélie was wrapped up in a towel giggling at Clare. I will continue this series in the New Year, we start the second term in January. We will be taking her to the local pool on Fridays so we may post anything that comes up there. I've also got a lot more video footage I should really go through and publish on the site.
In the mean time feel free to contact us if you have any questions via the contact form or leave comments.