DD is nearly 2.5. We have been doing swimming lessons for several months. She has always hated going underwater or getting her face wet. She's gone through a couple of phases where she has screamed through the whole lesson pretty much and it's directly related to fear of going underwater and she chokes every time she goes underwater and has cried afterwards. She seems to slowly build up confidence again whilst I don't put her underwater but then as soon as she thinks I might she goes back to square one with being scared and crying through the lessons.
I'm feeling like an awful mother about this. My gut instinct is to not put her under the water at all and keep her happy and build her confidence and in time she'll learn to swim, and if she never likes putting her head under water then it doesn't matter, she'll just swim doggy paddle forever more. She won't win swimming galas but then who cares about that... However, my swimming teacher is strongly of the position that I need to be cruel to be kind and in the long run it's the best thing for her just forcing her in as it will make her a more confident swimmer in the long term and by me saying no to her going underwater I'm stifling her progress and ability.
My daughter hated it too. We encouraged her to blow bubbles in the bath by putting her face under water and she will do it now. I agree with the general consensus. Don't water-board an unwilling toddler.
To be honest I really don't get why you would do this. Yes, children need to learn to swim, but at 2??? We have our own swimming pool, but none of my three learnt to swim until about 4 and a half. Before that they wore arm bands and enjoyed every minute of freely zooming around the pool (with head firmly above water!). At 4 ish they developed enough confidence to swim - and wanted to. DS (now 4.3) just learnt about 3 weeks ago and within a week of being arm band free was swimming like a little fish, diving down to pick up sinkers from the bottom of the pool. Let her be, let her enjoy the water, there is plenty of time to learn.