Today was our 30th baby swimming lesson and the first of the advanced course. Our baby has just turned 10 months old and started the lessons at 6 weeks old.
On Saturday I'd stupidly embarked on a 70 mile cycle ride, so I woke this morning feeling pretty sore in the old knees and wrists. Not the best state to be in while putting a 10 month old baby through her paces in the pool. If you have been following these lessons with your own baby you will know that you get a good little workout yourself.
Our whole town was like a swimming pool as we gingerly drove to the pool, this has been the wettest June I can ever recall. As we arrived I saw everyone was wearing swimming caps, apparently due to health and safety the pool owners now insist we wear swim caps. Clare knew there was no way I'd wear one so negotiated for me while I got in and started the lesson.
She told me the swim school tried to negotiate with the pool owners and got me a temporary reprieve. She is going to call us if there is a problem, but for now we are giving a big thumbs up to Waterbabies which is the company we use, otherwise I'll have to get the bic razors out and shave off the little hair I have left.
As well as a new course we had a new instructor, and with only 4 of us instead of the usual 8 or 9 it was a very pacey lesson. I was breathing heavily at certain times, I'm blaming exhaustion from my 70 mile cycle rather than my age for my lack of form but I'm guessing you're not going to buy that!
After a few of the usual warm up routines we did a rail swim. This is where you swim a width in side holding swim position and have your baby hold onto the rail at the other end. This was an underwater rail swim so as we neared the end of our width (about a meter and a half from the side of the pool) we gave a clear command 'Amélie ... ready ... go ...' and submerge our babies, letting go temporarily allowing them to swim underwater towards the side before lifting them up and giving the command 'hold on' and having them hold onto the side. Amélie had no trouble with this move.
Next up a familiar routine with a new technique. This is where you sit your baby on the side, throw in a ball or floating toy, give a command such as 'Amélie ... ready ... go ...' and splash your baby into the water and help them swim toward the toy and retrieve it. As our babies splashed into the water we were to allow them to go underwater for a few seconds before coming up and swimming for the toy. The new technique was the 'sandwich hold' you put one hand on their belly as they sit on the side, and one hand on their back so you have them sandwiched between your hands.
You are standing to either the left or right of your baby, I'm talking here about the baby's left and the baby's right. If you are on your babies left then the hand on your baby's tummy is your left, if you are on their right you use your right. This move went well for us although the instructor told me to push her harder under the water next time as I'd underestimated how buoyant Amélie was.
We quickly moved onto a splashdown where the instructor sits on the side and throws your baby into the water. We have done this a few times but not recently, we did it 2 times each and although Amélie wasn't grinning ear to ear she didn't seem unhappy. The main article picture was of this move today, apologies for the quality of the images in our recent articles. We are using a less intrusive camera instead of our SLR and are still getting to grips with the settings.
We did surfing on the teddy float in a big circle while the instructor shouted commands. When she shouted 'over the bridge' we did the over the bridge move lifting baby up and splashing down into the water. She mixed that up with another command on which we were to turn our babies on their backs and then immediately back onto their front. This was much like the 'x in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll over' routine but faster.
The main addition in this lesson was the theme of the parent swimming with baby on their back. We started this after horsey horsey so our babies were already comfortable on our backs. We then tried to swim a length of the pool breast stroke with our babies on our backs. We encouraged them to hold on by saying 'hold on ... hold on ...'. The instructor followed us in case our babies fell off.
Amélie and I were bottom of the class. All the other babies seemed to hold on pretty well but not Amélie. Next up was the same move but this time underwater, they call this the 'holiday swim'.
You have your baby on your back with their arms around your neck and shoulders. You set off swimming above water while encouraging them to hold on, just like the previous move. You then give them the command 'name ... ready ... go ...' and swim underwater with your baby on your back. You have to go deep enough for your baby to be submerged which is no easy task in these shallow baby pools.
Again Amélie and myself were bottom of the class, she fell off almost immediately. We then moved onto 'wibble wobble, wibble wobble, jelly on the plate'. The only addition was that we did it twice facing out as usual, then twice with our babies sitting facing in towards each other. When facing in they fall off backwards like scuba divers, it's amazing how much confidence these babies have in the water.
Before I knew it we were back floating to twinkle twinkle little star. I was exhausted and left wondering how I was going to remember the whole lesson for my article, as it was such a whirlwind of a lesson.
I'll be playing horsey with Amélie at home soon to get her used to holding onto me. She's just learned to stand on her own without holding onto furniture, and started taking her first steps so we play games based around that every evening at the moment. I think these swimming lessons have helped with the games we play at home.
When I want her to stand I say 'Amélie .... ready .... go ...', as soon as I say 'Amélie' she looks up at me, when I say 'ready' she moves her legs to get a good stance and holds her arms out a bit to balance, and when I say 'go' I let go of her and start clapping as she stands there on her own balancing.
So next week we have the second lesson of the advanced course and so long as we don't get a call insisting I wear a swim cap I'll be reporting back for you as usual.