Natali has been taking swimming lessons once a week for the last three months. I take her to a place called Emler Swim School. They have several locations throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. They are more expensive than the city lessons, but the pool is indoor, which was very important to me for several reasons. We can do lessons year-round at an indoor facility and I don't have to worry about the weather. Our first lesson was back in early June. We did a free trial lesson and Natali cried the entire time. It was pretty awful, but I signed her up anyway. Darren came to that first lesson and he was ready to pull her out of the pool in the first 5 minutes. He hasn't been back since. He didn't quite understand my need to get her in lessons at such a young age, but I think it's extremely important for her to have an appreciation for water and to know how to not drown. While we don't have a pool at home, we do travel a lot near water and 2 of my siblings have pools in their backyards. I want Natali to be able to enjoy herself in and around the water. So, after that first lesson I was more determined than ever that she would do those lessons.
Natali was in a class called "waterbabies" and the kids could be as young as 6 months old. Her class was mostly kids in the 1 to 2 age range though. The parents are all in the water with the kids and we did a lot of songs. The goals of the class were to just get the kids comfortable in the water and to be able to start moving through the water on their own, mostly by kicking, and to be able to hold on to the wall and move along the wall and even pull themselves out of the water. All of these things together would hopefully allow the kids to be more comfortable and not drown if they ever somehow fell in. Theoretically Natali could move to the wall if she fell in and at least know how to grab it and hold on so she wouldn't drown. This is something that every child should learn. By the end of the 12 week class she was supposed to be able to hold her breath underwater for 10 seconds. I was really skeptical about that last part. Our first "official" class was the next week after the trial lesson. Natali did not want to go at all and she cried for the first 5 minutes. She finally calmed down though, I think when she figured out we weren't going to leave. Of course she didn't really want to do anything during the lesson and she clung to me like it was a life or death situation, but I was just happy to have the crying stop. Progress was made!
As the lessons continued each week got a little better. Natali started to get comfortable and enjoy herself. She really liked the songs and even started singing them throughout the week when we were just around the house. The underwater part was difficult though. We started off just having her jump to me without putting her head under. Then it progressed to just putting her mouth under, and then the next week she went fully underwater for the first time for 1 second. That really shocked her, but she did it and then kept progressing from there. I didn't think it would happen, but by our last lesson on Friday she actually did go underwater for 10 full seconds and she came up smiling! I was extremely proud of the progress she had made. I have of course signed her up for the next session. I was expecting to just put her in another session of the waterbabies class, but after a lengthy discussion with her teacher we decided we will try moving her up to super waterbabies. I am very nervous about this transition because I will not be in the water with her anymore. I did get the opportunity to watch a little bit of another super waterbabies class and it made me a bit more comfortable about it. I decided to go for it. I signed her up with the same teacher so the transition will be easier. She has an excellent teacher so I'm glad she will get to stay with him. Of course, if it doesn't work out in the new class we can always step back and do the first class again, but I think it will be fine. I'm excited to see how it goes.
While I wasn't sure at the beginning of this whole thing, I am extremely happy we stuck with the lessons. It has been a fun and valuable experience and Natali is better off for having gone through it. I think the first week or two in her new class might be a bit rough, but we will get through that too and she should be able to do a whole lot more in the water by the end of it.