We're now in week.. 8? or 9? of swimming instruction. Things are going pretty well. The instruction is officially 6 weeks long, but I don't think anyone truly expected to go from zero to swimming like a fish in 6 weeks, at least, not from Billy. I'm just glad he's mostly okay with getting his face wet at this point.
Since we started, our weeks go like this:
Tuesday – The three of us go to Family Swim
Wednesday – Billy goes for his 1:1 swimming instruction
Thursday – The three of us go to Family Swim
So for 3 days a week, he spends at least an hour a day in the pool. It's doing wonders for his comfort level in the pool, and it's not hurting us exercise wise as grownups either.
Currently, he's able to:
- Jump in the water from the side of the pool in a seated position with a swimming noodle, or these things they call swimming bubble belts. I've never been there during instruction, and I'm myopic enough where I can't see other swimmers in the pool, so rather than show a real picture, I'll just drop this google image search here.
- Swim unaided for several feet, between two people or a noodle and the wall, for instance. He's got huge confidence issues with this, and it's being worked on.
- Swim using arms and feet with a noodle or bubble
- Place his mouth underwater and make bubbles
- Use his noodle as a squirt gun by flooding it with water, then blowing on one end to make the water blow out the other.
And as parents, we've learned to:
- Repeatedly tell him to swim with his mouth shut, as he tends to have this goofy permagrin that lets water in
- Make sure when he tries to interact with others socially, that he's not actually being adorable and getting close so he can spit water at them and laugh his butt off
- That if he does do this, and accidentally swallows the water and starts coughing, to immediately rush him to the side of the pool, and bodily throw him as far as we can away from the pool without injury, and tell him to run away from the pool. This way, when he inevitably gags (yes, we've tried stopping this, with really bad results, coughing causes this on land too), he throws up on the edge of the pool, rather than inside of it. The staff isn't thrilled about this, which occurs roughly once a week, but is happy we've been able to detect it happening and react, unlike the first week where they had to close down the pool because a few hot dogs were basically floating in it.
Using my new "Force" like superpowers of anticipating vomit is a personal accomplishment of mine as of late. The lifeguards are starting to take note when they see me running in the pool with him in my arms, and "tossing" him onto dry land. I hear the mumbles, and I can tell despite the fact I can't see them that they are making disgusted looks, but usually one of the more experienced lifeguards (or Billy's instructor, who is aware of his special needs, is also a lifeguard there) will whisper to them or shoot a look, and collectively they don't make us feel as awkward as we could. That's as close to acceptance as I could ask for for the time being, so I'll take it. (The first couple of weeks, they told us that he can't come back in because he's 'sick', but I had a chat with one of them about his gagging issues, which he has on dry land quite a bit anyway, and now I get less static when I shower him off and bring him back in)
So all in all, we have progress, and I'm happy. We're not where we want to be with water safety yet, but we're a lot closer than we were, and by this rate we'll be where we need to be by summer vacation, which is comforting.