Learn to Swim Companion

A guide for parents and learners

Mabel’s swimming progress one year on

For the past year we have followed Mabel as she undertakes the journey of learning to swim. Mabel is four years old and has been attending swimming lessons once a week for 30 minute sessions with Swim England Swim School member Charnwood Swim School.

She is currently working towards Swim England Learn to Swim Stage 2 and has previously completed the Duckling 1 – 4 Awards and Swim England Learn to Swim Stage 1.

Parent views

Holidays are the time when we notice the most difference, when we head to the pool daily and see the enjoyment she gets from swimming and how much confidence she has.

You only have to ask Mabel once to get dressed if she knows she is off to the pool. She will come back with her kit on, goggles at the ready and as many floats as she can carry tucked under her little arms, eager to get in the water.

Once the kids gets to the pool there isn’t much time to select the best sun lounging spot, it’s a case of grab what you can get nearest to the pool before both kids are in!

Mabel can enter and exit the pool comfortably, kick her legs and uses her arms to manoeuvre herself around the pool. She will swim on her front and back with use of a float and happily splashes and puts her face in the water. And if Mabel spots a water slide there is no stopping her, she is a thrill seeker!

It is lovely to see Mabel using the skills she has learnt during her lessons and putting them in to practice while having so much fun. The hard part is leaving the pool!

Mabel running in to the sea

A blip

Of course every swimming lesson doesn’t always go to plan! She started primary school in September 2018. We had just returned to swimming lessons after having the summer holidays off. The first week was a breeze and Mabel was excited to return to the lessons and get back in to swimming.

The second lesson wasn’t so smooth. We got to poolside and Mabel squeezed my hand tightly as she backed away from the pool pulling on my hand. She didn’t want to enter the water. It was unlike her, and I spent five minutes trying to convince her to enter the pool but she started to get worked up and I didn’t want anyone to experience the echoing wail of her cries around the pool which was where the situation was heading.

I spoke with the swim school manager who suggested sitting out for the lesson, next week might be different.

I accepted the fact that she wasn’t going in no matter what I said so I headed to the seating area with a gloomy looking Mabel. We sat watching the other children swimming, including her older sister Olive, who occasionally gave us a smile and wave, and chatted. I was still slyly trying to convince Mabel the pool was more fun than being sat with me.

After 15 minutes Mabel had a change of heart, turned to me and requested to go in the pool. I swiftly took her back to the poolside and she got in for the remainder of the session. It was a small victory for the day and Mabel got out the pool at the end of the session having forgotten about the start.

The irony of the story is if we ask Mabel and Olive what they’d like to do at the weekends, swimming is always top of the list!

Sometimes as parents we just have to go with the flow and I find with Mabel I have to act on her emotions, levels of tiredness and what kind of week she has had as they all play a part.

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