Matthew has always loved water and loved to swim, but swim lessons were a different story. He didn't like being with a group of kids and spending a lot of time waiting. And honestly, the instructors at the Y where he was taking swim lessons left a lot to be desired. Many of them were young teenagers, who really had no idea how to teach kids how to swim, or how to deal with kids. Matthew went through more than one class in tears, but kept getting passed up level. He also would refuse to go in deep water with clinging to someone and freaking out. It got so bad that one day he refused to get in the water. Well, at that point, we pulled him out of swim lessons.
Mike and I both grew up around swimming pools in Arizona, and have a firm belief that you need to know how to swim for safety. While Matthew was always safe in the water (never going where he couldn't touch) and was able to swim, he wasn't a strong swimmer and had no stamina. We knew that had to change.
This summer, Matthew made it his goal to pass the wristband test at our Y, which would enable him to go down the waterslides and swim on his own. Passing the test involved swimming 25 meters free-style (with face in water), treading water for 1 minute, and back floating. Well, we knew the only way he would be able to pass this test was by taking more swim lessons, but we were very reluctant to put him back in group lessons. Finally, we decided to place him in private lessons at the Y. After the first half-hour, I knew this was the best money we ever spent. His instructor, Joyce, pushed him, yet didn't frighten him- she was perfect! His swimming was improving, and better yet- he was no longer afraid of the deep water.
One day Matthew decided he wanted to take the swim test. I didn't think he was ready, but hey- this kid has surprised me more than once- so I let him. I have never seen him work so hard for anything. It was the slowest, ugliest 25m swim ever- there were times I knew he wanted to give, but he never did. And treading water- well, let's just say it's a good thing it wasn't for 61 seconds... So he passed the swim test and continued to do well.
In September, we decided to change the Y location where he was taking lessons- and after talking to the coach, we decided to put him on a pre-swim team. This is a team for kids ages 5-8 (although at almost 7 he is one of the youngest) who aren't quite ready for competition, but ready for more intense swim practice.
Oh my goodness- what an amazing difference! The coaches are all so good with the kids. Some are very fun loving and relaxed, while others are stricter, but you can tell they all love working with the kids. And they push the kids- I would have never thought Matthew could swim for an hour straight, but he does, twice a week! And his skill have taken off- I watched him swim freestyle relays last night, and was amazed. His freestyle is FAST- and he has great strokes, and rotary breathing. And his backstroke is pretty good too (when he goes straight...) Now, they are working with him on his breaststroke and butterfly- but for now, when he does fly, he looks like a worm dangling on a hook.
Watching him yesterday, I would have never believed that this is the same kid that 6 months ago cried about getting in 5 feet of water. He has come so far, and I am so proud of him!