Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Back in the Swim of Things

Determined that Hannah will be a better swimmer than her mom, I signed Hannah up for lessons at the local swimming pool. The lessons are held in a small teaching pool, an amenity I never took notice of in all my time at the aquatic centre. Ditto the ‘family change room’.

Of course we were late getting to the first lesson. I hate being late. I walked as quickly and efficiently as I could to the front desk while David parked and I somewhat doubtfully inquired if there was somewhere that both parents could go to get the baby ready. That would be a great idea, I thought. Lord knows I could not manage all the regular swim gear, diaper bag, winter clothing, towels and baby on my own. The attendant gave a knowing nod and very patiently pointed me on my way. Things were shaping up.

I opened the door from the deserted hallway into a sea of chaos. Seems everyone was late. The ‘family’ change room is about as big as a generous walk-in closet, with a communal change table in the centre. Children were positioned head-to-toe and head-to-head as parents tried to eke out their precious territory, let alone defend it, on the change table.

There were at least 15 kids and their parents going in to a lesson, and about the same number coming out. Add to the chaos the din of crying babies, hair dryers, and about 8 sets of parents cooing, cajoling and distracting the roster of babies on the change tables and it was great mental training for keeping cool in the transition zone of a major triathlon on race day.

While I got into the scrum, David joked around with an outgoing couple. He has a way of saying what we are all thinking as he told the couple – “You know, it is comforting to hear that other kids can be as hysterical as Hannah - it actually gives me pleasure.”

Finally, we stuffed our shoes into the inadequate cubby holes and walked, not ran, to the kiddie pool. Parents were in their semi-squat positions towing babies around in the water. We arranged ourselves into a circle to sing a song and splash around. I didn’t know the song, and it seemed everyone else did, but we’re quick studies and we caught on pretty soon.

The baby next to Hannah loved the water. He had figured out how to make the biggest splash with little hands and did so with alarming speed, flapping his arms up and down and keeping eyes wide open in the ensuing shower. Hannah, on the other hand, curled her hands into little fists and spent the circle time rubbing the water away from her eyes, incensed that she should get her face wet.

We then ‘rocketed’ around by towing the baby on their backs. Again, some kids seemed to love it and kicked their legs in glee. Hannah squealed until we put her in a semi upright position and distracted her with itsy-bitsy-spider.

Then they had the babies sit on the wall and we let them ‘launch’ into the water (never taking our hands off of them). Hannah seemed to love this. Ditto the ‘throwing and jumping’ into the air. In fact, I think she loved anything that took her farther away from the water.

Next week we do submersions. I’m sure Hannah will love it.


  1. Hey thanks for the informative post, Swimming classes should be something that a person takes up when young. Well I guess an adult can also take up swimming lessons. Never too young to try!

  2. Hi Alison-I happened across your blog and felt compelled to comment. I am a recreational triathlete with a few sprint and olympic distances under my belt. And am desperately trying to get back on track after having a baby. Being snowbound in Montreal hasn't helped but I will get there. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. I came across your blog through Michelle Simmons blog. I have been so curious about the family changing room but have never ventured in. My little one will be 6 months in 2 months so we'll start swim lessons. I am super excited as the kid loves his bath and splashes like crazy. He'll be like the little boy next to your daughter.

    Good luck with the submersions!

  4. Aww, it is great to get your daughter swimming early! Sounds like an adventure there at the pool! good thing for family changing rooms but seems like they should make them alot bigger!!

  5. Thanks for the comments - I went again today and as predicted, Hannah was NOT happy about the submersion. But, we were way more efficient this time with the changing. We put Hannah's swim stuff on at home so when we got there we just had to whip off her track suit. Aftewards, I took her into the women's change room and it was almost deserted.