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Fast Track to Swimming?

(11 Posts)
Euansdad Fri 21-Oct-11 09:37:51

Hi everyone!

I have a little boy called Euan and he turned 2 a couple of weeks ago.

He's fine with most things, but he's absolutely terrified of swimming pools and will not go near them without hysterics.

The problem is, we live in a fairly remote rural area and the nearest swimming pool to us is a half hour drive and freezing cold. They get loads of complaints about the pool temperature and people talk about it a lot, but I work in a hotel with a pool and I know we get complaints about the pool temperature too and we keep it at the maximum temperature allowed by pool regulations. Anyway, I digress...

While my wife was on maternity leave, she didn't really bother to take him swimming as she didn't want to have to pay the extortionate costs of water babies classes who make you pay for an entire course up front when she couldn't necessarily get to every class on a weekly basis, so we've just been left to our own devices.

Now he used to be quite happy to go into the pool and be carried around slowly but securely and we used to pass him to and from each other in his rubber ring/seat thing which he also seemed quite happy with.

When we take him now though, as soon as he realises where we're going, he starts panicking and thrashing around and every time we take him in the pool he absolutely screams the place down and although I'm not normally too bothered about his behaviour in public, we find this a little embarassing because we feel like we're forcing him to do something he clearly doesn't want to do. But then we see kids younger than him, playing in the water quite happily, swimming around in rubber rings and generally enjoying themselves.

What can we do to get him to realise it's fun? We've tried taking toys, but he's just not interested. He's too preoccupied with having a paddy and trying to get us to not take him in.

I guess my main question is, I'm off work all next week and still have another week to take off in November too and wondered if anyone could recommend anything I could use that time for to try and give him a bit of confidence and hopefully start enjoying going swimming?

Thanks everyone.


tryingtoleave Fri 21-Oct-11 09:42:59

Leave it until the summer. He doesn't need to learn at 2 - most children can't learn till 3 (I know everyone will come and talk about their swimming prodigies but that is the case).

I feel sorry for the little children forced to swim against their will. He will probably just grow out of his fear of the water if you don't push the issue now.

Euansdad Fri 21-Oct-11 09:55:53

Sorry I should have been more clear. I'm not too bothered about teaching him how to do lengths, I just want to do something to help build his confidence in playing in the water.

Winters are getting increasingly grim around here these days and apart from going to the soft play place, the swimming pool is the only other option for things to do apart from going to the garden centre to look at the fish which is fun for about 5 minutes, so anyway, that's why I was hoping to do something with him now so we have an extra activity to do over winter.

fasn8tor Fri 21-Oct-11 10:01:15

absolutely, completely forget it. He clearly hates it. You will make it worse if you go on about it.

Alternatively book a holiday somewhere warm and sunny and let him sit at the side of the pool while you have a great time in the water without him - he'll soon want to come in then!

fasn8tor Fri 21-Oct-11 10:02:58

d1 HATED pools when she was 2 so I told her that she never had to go swimming again if she didnt want to. Then I started going when I was pg with d2 and let d1 sit on the side while I bobbed about in the baby pool. Eventually she came in and let me hold her for a bit in the water - it went from there - she is now 12 and won the swimming cup at her school last year wink

tryingtoleave Fri 21-Oct-11 10:04:06

Yes, I can see that would be frustrating. We used to do a lot of swimming in winter. But I would still think that it would be best to wait and see if his fear just goes on its own. Even if it doesn't, a 4/5 year old is a lot more rational and more responsive to explanations about why he shouldn't be scared. But maybe someone will come along with a better idea.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Oct-11 10:22:55

Hi, Euansdad. Have you tried getting him a baby wetsuit? My ds1 hated the water when he was little, unless he had a wetsuit on to help keep him warm!!! It wasn't a full-length one, just kept his ribs and the top of his legs warm (no sleeves for the arms), but it obviously made the water more bearable. We got it from Mothercare. Chasing after balls, little watering cans for your kids to pour water over your head (children who are scared of the water are less keen on you doing that to them, though!) and pulling your kids around on foam floats usually goes down fairly well, too. Ds1 when he was very little also got on better with a float jacket than armbands or no sense of security at all - made him more willing to do something other than cling to me like a little limpet. He was never going to be one of those children who happily jumped into the pool and splashed about with no apparent sense of cold or fear, but he did enjoy swimming on his own terms and is now quite a good swimmer.

Euansdad Fri 21-Oct-11 11:33:48

Leaving him at the side of the pool sounds like a good idea. He might decide that it's fun and want to come and join in as opposed to as you say having him cling on like a limpet in hysterics while I dip his feet in the water.

Yeah we've got him a wetsuit as well as his little swimming shorts but he won't let us put it on him because he knows what it's leading too. It's hard enough getting his swimming nappy and shorts on.

I'll have to see if I can get someone to come with me if I take him next week to save me having to keep jumping out of the pool when he's running off back to the changing rooms every two mins.

We hired a villa in Cala Vadella with some friends in Ibiza in summer with a pool and even though we were playing with their kids in the pool and making it obvious it was fun, he would let us carry him in the pool, but that was it. He still hung on like a limpet.

ragged Fri 21-Oct-11 14:35:19

Hanging on like a limpet is fine. DD was like that until she tentatively started to use other floats at about age 3.5yo. Could not get her to stop using floats until nearly 6yo. She's now 10yo & swims beautifully (told she should join competitive club, top level group at local leisure centre, coach hopes she'll get a 3k distance badge tomorrow).

Is there not a warmer pool you could go to, maybe within 45 min. drive? Just twice a month even?

I would take a laid back approach. If you just sit by the side of the pool with feet in water reading stories or singing silly songs, that's fine. If he doesn't go in the water at all the entire time then so be it.

That said... although I am not a fan of pressuring them, I have observed a lot of people do it successfully. Literally making child go in water & putting up with screaming for 10 minutes & then the child is playing happily 10 minutes later (& for the rest of the time in the pool). Couldn't do it myself, though.

naturalbaby Fri 21-Oct-11 20:35:22

i used to take my baby every week but then stopped for various reasons for a few months and tried again when he was around 2 - he freaked out and wouldn't go near the pool!
part of it was he was used to paddling around in a baby pool that was only waist deep for him and always had 1 or 2 other kids in so he loved it, then we took him to a leisure centre and he freaked out when he realised he couldn't touch the bottom.

we let him sit on the side and watch dh swim with his baby brother and eventually he clung to dh for dear life and let him walk around a bit with him, then dh started throwing him up a bit and messing around and building on his confidence. he takes a long time to warm up but when he sees other kids doing it and having fun he'll watch for a bit then realise he wants to try too.

ragged Sun 23-Oct-11 12:19:29

ps: I was wrong. DD didn't get a 3k distance swimming badge last night.

She got 5000m badge instead wink grin. [why don't we have a PROUD emoticon?] (Actually I'm more impressed than proud, I can't take credit, she did it).

And she had the worst start ever to swim lessons, age 5.5yo, refused to put face in water or take feet off bottom, never more than 4 cm from the wall, hysterical crying for most of the 10 weeks (when she agreed to go in at all).

Boy do I feel vindicated in the softly softly laid back approach smile.

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