Today we braved the local swimming pool for the first time as a family. Finley is 3 and Fraser is 19 months old, so for some this may seem like a delay in introducing our children to the joys of swimming.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the idea of taking a borderline newborn baby into a swimming pool. I get that it is important to introduce kids to swimming for their own safety etc etc. But really, what is the likelihood of a newborn finding himself in the situation where they have to fend for themselves in an accidental water situation? I also believe that this could be extended to slightly older children too. If a little kid has found himself in the situation where he is unaccompanied by an adult around a large body of water, then something has gone seriously wrong already.
I really do question what the real point is of taking babies into chlorinated, public swimming pools. What are they gaining that they can’t gain from splashing around in their own bath at home, without the skin-fauna-stripping chemicals and foreign floaters (I’m referring to other children’s snot)? But maybe I’m just a backward parent who deprived her babies of swimming pools and will have to live with this mistake for the rest of my days.
Either way, it was time that we introduced our elder son to the pool, knowing that he would probably enjoy the permission to splash without limits, not to mention the opportunity for him to burn off some energy and get some all-important exercise. We took Fraser (19-months) along because we’re gluttons for punishment we thought he’d also love it.
I haven’t been near a swimming pool since my honeymoon back in September 2010 (yes, it’s been a while). And on honeymoon, the swimming we did was in a private, outdoor pool at our private villa, or in the sea. Needless to say, I had forgotten about the whole ‘experience’ of public swimming pools. Stick a pre-schooler and toddler into the mix, and things we even more fun.
We got there at the crack of dawn (10am), to ensure we beat the crowds. Thankfully there were ‘family’ changing rooms, which meant that Ian and I could attack the children together, rather than one of us (me) being lumbered with getting them ready on our own. The family changing rooms were actually just large, all-purpose changing rooms, designed for large groups of people (probably school children and football teams) to get ready in. It served the purpose. We got changed.
We headed for the pool, via the actual changing rooms, and were relieved to discover an empty children’s pool. Finley was delighted with the prospect of getting into this huge body of water, so Ian took him in. I carried Fraser, who began to panic the second he saw my forward-foot hit the water (this was kind of ironic really, as he was born straight into the water). He panicked and panicked, I held him close, I sang him songs, but to no avail. After some bizarre techniques and slowly but surely getting lower to the water, he ceased trembling and screaming.
Ian took over babysitting Fraser at the water’s edge and I took to the water to have some fun with an enthusiastic Finley. Ian did incredibly well at easing Fraser’s fears, and figured out that he was ok if he could have his feet on the bottom of the pool. So Fraser spent the last part of the swimming session rooted to one spot. But at least he was now relatively happy.
After nearly an hour (I didn’t think we’d make 10 minutes) we decided that Finley was looking borderline hypothermic (yet surprisingly happy), and Fraser was likely to be ravenous. We headed back to the changing room.
I remember post-swim changing being fairly icky at the best of times (until I started earning money and was able to afford luxury gym memberships). Yucky wet floors, communal showers – I was never a fan of the public swimming pool experience. Nevertheless, I always found that having a nice warm shower and taking the time to apply of lashings of moisturiser helped ease the ickiness. But with two little children in tow, there’s no chance of pampering. We bundled into the changing room without the chance to shower. Fraser managed to slip over twice while I forced clothes over Finley’s damp body and Ian attempted to organise the wet swimming gear and towels. A few minutes later, with the aid of a thin layer of talc-paste covering their little bodies, we wafted our eau de chlorine out of the building and into the car.
Feeling a simultaneous sense of relief (that it was over) and achievement (that we’d got them in and out in one piece), we resolved to return again next weekend for more of the same.
What was your first swimming experience with your kids like? Were your kids terrified or in heaven in the pool?