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2 years of swimming lessons and DS still can't swim a width - what next?

(52 Posts)
Preminstreltension Fri 12-Jun-15 18:27:41

So DS (who will be 6 in August) had a year of swimming lessons in a 2-1 class. The other child was better than him but he did ok. I had to stop that as it was too expensive.

This year he's been in a small class - between 7 and 3 kids each week. He also had a week of 1-1 lessons in October. And he still can't swim. He seems to be regressing. I've complained about the lack of teaching continuity which is part of the problem but the other kids are getting on with it, progressing and moving on while he's going nowhere, literally.

It looks as though he doesn't kick hard enough so he sinks after one or two strokes.

He is comfortable in the water and enjoys the lessons but I can't keep spending without any progress.

What do I do? Get a private 1-1 teacher for another set of intensive sessions? Keep plugging away in the class? We've had plenty of swimming based holidays and he loves the splashing but is not making the leap.

PureMorning Fri 12-Jun-15 18:28:58

I'd want my nodding money back from the pool!

Gileswithachainsaw Fri 12-Jun-15 18:32:08



AcrossthePond55 Fri 12-Jun-15 18:36:34

I'd probably plod on. My DS2 had two years also, and just your son's age. The first year he did nothing but sit on the side and occasionally paddle a little bit. The second year started out the same. We figured at least it got him into the water (sigh). At just about the end of the 2nd 6 week session, he took off like gangbusters. Swam across the pool, jumped off the board, floated on his back. It was like he suddenly decided he could do it, and so he did.

Does the class ever work with kick-boards? That can really show them how strong their kick needs to be to move forward and stay afloat.

Preminstreltension Fri 12-Jun-15 18:39:13

Yes I've just written my third letter of complaint. I think I will try to get a refund but bet I won't. But even if I do, what do I do then? Is he made out of lead?

It's such a massive pain in the backside as I turn up at the lessons now and again (nanny usually takes him) just to see what's happening and see that there's no progress and rage and moan to the nanny and fire off another email! DD by contrast is a great swimmer - bloody kids.

CMOTDibbler Fri 12-Jun-15 18:42:14

I'd leave lessons for a year, going swimming as a family and having fun in the water, then try lessons again.

No point making it into a big thing, and many children just aren't ready till they are that bit older

HarrietSchulenberg Fri 12-Jun-15 18:43:09

Does anyone take him swimming in between lessons or does he just go once a week?
An extra session or two in between, perhaps at the weekend, would give him more chance to practise, with a kickboard if necessary.

Preminstreltension Fri 12-Jun-15 18:44:54

Yes they do do some leg only stuff - gripping onto floats out front, hugging floats to their chest etc. he just puts his legs down every two strokes and they've not been pulling him up on that until I pointed it out.

I was really assuming at some point he'd crack it like your ds pond. Eeesh.

coffeeisnectar Fri 12-Jun-15 18:47:17

I'd leave the lessons for a year. Then see how he goes trying to swim when you are out as a family at the pool.

My dd is 9 and only started lessons with school a year ago and is now having lessons out of school and is loving it and really has come on so much. The point is she wants to do it whereas two or three years ago she wasn't interested.

Preminstreltension Fri 12-Jun-15 18:47:29

Sorry missed those posts. We don't go in the week as nanny can't swim and the weekends are football etc. But we have had some fab swimming pool holidays where the kids spend the entire week in the pool - nothing!

Am wondering if putting it on hold is right or going intensive again.

Lweji Fri 12-Jun-15 18:48:15

Be patient. He is still young and I don't think there is much a teacher can do if he is not ready yet.
I certainly wouldn't be writing letters of complaint over it.

Tequilashotfor1 Fri 12-Jun-15 18:49:13

Swimming teacher here!

Don't stop the swimming. You've invested a lot in to it and yes he should absolutly be travelling a desent distance Especially with the small classes.

Is he following a development plan? Do they do badges? Does the teacher follow a lesson plan? Is it the same teacher week by week? Can he put his feet down ? Is there a teacher in the water? His is hearing ok? What is his kick like ? Is it up and down or is it like a scissor kick (one leg higher, one leg lower and both meeting in the middle) ?

There are lots of things that could be stopping him from progressing.

Preminstreltension Fri 12-Jun-15 18:56:09

Great to have all your thoughts.

The teaching manager agreed that it wasn't really a good amount of progress for the year he's been in the class and she undertook to brief the teachers to pick him up on stuff. Tbh they'd been very slack on that and with all the teacher turnover no one knew who he was or had time to identify his issues before they left again. There is a programme and badges but he hasn't had one for a year!

He can put his feet down - perhaps he needs to be at the deep end! I think the issue is his kick. He looks like he's kicking but he doesn't really move. The teachers half heartedly remind him to point his toes but he forgets and another week goes by!

I'm feeling rather obsessed by this atm. That will teach me to leave work early to go and watch the lesson today!

NotBeingUnreasonable Fri 12-Jun-15 19:05:28

After over 3 years of swimming lessons we eventually pulled DD out as she still can't swim. She has some coordination problems though (possible dypraxia).

The lessons annoyed me because they seemed to spend an awful lot of time on butterfly arms/legs and front crawl breathing technique when she couldn't actually from A to B without going under. I understand why they do this, but I don't want her to learn fancy strokes, I just need her to be safe in the water.

We just go as a family now and she goes with school too, but still can't swim. We may re-visit lessons when she's a bit older, maybe 1 to 1.

AcrossthePond55 Fri 12-Jun-15 20:27:51

Just a thought, but have you ever asked him if he's even interested in learning to swim? Don't get me wrong, I strongly believe that everyone should know how to swim. I learnt to swim aged 3 (uncle was a Red Cross instructor & taught all his nieces/nephews at that age). I grew up spending every summer in the water, either the sea, a lake, or a pool. DS1 learnt at 4.

I really think my DS2's 'problem' was that 1-he's always been shy and hesitant about trying new things, he 'observes' until he feels secure iyswim, and 2-he just wasn't fussed. Could that be your son's 'problem'? I'd ask him and if he just isn't interested, maybe waiting until he is would be better. If he's just nervous or insecure, reassurance and plodding on (without pressuring) may be the way to go. As to whether 121 would be better, I really think that with my DS2, it would have made things worse, too much pressure, too much focus on him. Being able to sit, out of the spotlight, until he was ready was right for him. Once DS2 decided it was something he wanted to do, he did it and became (and still is at 26) a true 'water baby'.

You know, my own dad never did swim. He was required to learn when he was in the Army and he could manage a rough breast-stroke from edge to edge in a pool, but he sank like a stone when he tried to float. We even had a pool. I don't think I saw him in it more that half dozen times.

Mistigri Fri 12-Jun-15 23:04:48

Does your DS like the lessons?

Some kids learn to swim easily, some don't. It seems to be partly a question of body composition. My DS - sporty, thin but muscular - had a really hard time learning to swim. He could swim with his head under water but swimming with his head out of water took much longer. He just used to sink like a stone. Yet he was was one of the better swimmers in his class by Y7.

My daughter could swim like a fish at 4, without lessons. Unlike her brother she seems to be naturally buoyant!

Makes me wonder whether lessons aren't a bit of a con, unless you want your child to swim competitively.

LovelyFriend Sat 13-Jun-15 00:24:50

My 7 yo can swim pretty well. My 4yo is progressing really well. They haven't had lessons just going to the pool with me.

Two things I've noticed made the most difference. Going regularly. And getting those sinking weights that get them swimming down to pick them up. They swim like fish to get those.

Now they just need to polish their technique so I'm thinking of a few private lessons.

gointothewoods Sat 13-Jun-15 00:36:19

Agree with lovelyfriend 100%
Lessons did not work for my kids. Weekly swimming with dh and I have made a huge difference.
Just because you're paying for lessons doesn't guarantee anything. IMO.
Love your work lovelyfriend. wink

Preminstreltension Sun 14-Jun-15 10:21:51

Funnily enough he has a swimmer's body - he's quite broad shouldered, not densely lean, big feet.

I think I'm going to have to conclude that the swimming lessons are just not working - he is worse now than he was a year ago and I'm several hundred pounds down! I think it will be down to me. We have those diving sticks and he likes those. Maybe we will spend more time with those.

The main issue though is that I work full time and am a single parent of two children so fitting in this with the two lots of other activities is difficult. It's pretty daunting to think about fitting another thing into our schedule as we already do lots of outside school things at the weekend to compensate for the school being quite poor at sport. Plus it's very demanding on the homework side so my weekends are already packed to a point where I hate it.

In fact this is why I want him to swim - so that when we go on holiday to somewhere with a pool, I can finally relax and let him go in the pool and swim with his sister while I stop running around for once and not be involved in their activities and read a book! He will be in the pool all week if he gets a chance (we had a winter sun holiday in February and he never got out of the pool - only problem was, I had to be in there too).

I confess acrossthepond that I haven't asked him if he wants to swim. It is important to me that he becomes a decent swimmer (not even good, just able to swim competently). On the other hand, he seems to really enjoy the lessons - he's always smiling and looking like it's fun. In fact he thinks he can swim hmm grin

LovelyFriend Sun 14-Jun-15 10:29:59

Thanks goneintitgewoods

AcrossthePond55 Sun 14-Jun-15 14:19:19

I'm with you in believing that it's very important that one is able to swim well enough to 'get to the side of the pool'. Water safety, 'drown proofing', whatever you want to call it. I'm assuming he isn't there yet. Is there an activity he could give up for the short term to accomplish that? Are there lessons or 121 that could focus on that?

ReallyTired Sun 14-Jun-15 17:23:03

What is your son like with academic work? Does he listen? Does learning come easily to him? What is your son like at other sports? Can he ride a bike? Do the other children make progress? Some children struggle with learning physical skills.

I feel that the fact he can touch the bottom of the pool is a red herring. He is making the choice to put his feet down. It does not matter how good a swimming teacher is, the child had to make an effort. Lamblasting the swimming school about lack of progress is unlikely to help. Certainly three letters of complaint will not get the swimming coach on your side. If you are really that unhappy you should change swimming school.

Do you think your son is trying? The ASA website have the criteria for each badge. It might be worth setting your son a small target like not putting his feet down for 5 metres when kicking on his front with a float. Try and take him swimming yourself between lessons.

Preminstreltension Sun 14-Jun-15 17:34:04

Yes he's ok at school. Youngest in the year but doing ok. Can ride a bike without stabilisers and has been able to since he was four. Reasonably active and no obvious coordination problems.

I absolutely agree he needs to make an effort but there's no intervention so he just swims a stroke, feet down, swims another stroke, feet down and so on and the teacher doesn't intervene (I've lost count of the number of teachers this year - last year he was at another swim school). He's just not kicking strongly enough so gets no momentum but as far as he's aware he's doing ok since the teacher doesn't say anything. I've told him to kick harder but I'm not there to push him. On Friday I was standing on the side yelling at him to keep kicking while the teacher stared into space (probably embarrassed about the mad woman on poolside).

The swimming manager has agreed that the teaching has been poor - she came to watch a lesson with me and saw the lack of intervention. But the other kids are either making progress and moving on to the next class or dropping out altogether.

Micah Sun 14-Jun-15 17:43:33

He's 6. When they're little their proportions are often out- big head and relatively small arms make proper strokes tough. Most swimming clubs won't start them until 5/6 because of this, and the first year is water confidence anyway.

Dh and I were both competitive swimmers, took dc every week until 5, when they joined the swimming club. They were very water confident, but progress seem soo slow, until about 7.5/8, when suddenly they could swim, all 4 strokes. Seemed to happen almost overnight. As with most things there seems to be something "click".

If you're unhappy with the lessons, find another pool, or look for a swimming club. But as long as he's happy, enjoying it, and you're happy paying the money, stick at it!

RandomMess Sun 14-Jun-15 17:43:35

I learnt to swim before I started school shock swam my mile before I left primary but I seem to have produced 4 non-swimmers

DD1: Had had lessons at school until the age of 13 still pretty rubbish but good enough to surf.
DD2: Primary school actually did her a special certificate because her progress was so non-existent and she just chokes/sinks despite the intensive lessons one summer
DD3: Got the minimum after some intensive lessons one summer
DD4: Apparently she refused to get into the pool for the first year...

In conclusion some dc are not naturally born to it/don't get it/aren't interested I'd leave it for a couple of years where you can use the carrot & stick approach more effectively! I also think going more than once per week helps but it doesn't sound like you can fit it in for now.

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