I'm not a strong swimmer, and never have been. I was never confident in the water as a child. In my teenage years, I had some skin issues that I was very self-conscious about. Going to a boy's school where I was already bullied, I didn't want to add material, so I avoided swimming. To this day, I can barely swim 50 metres freestyle. To think I once had aspirations of getting into the police, which required a bronze medallion.
As as result of my atrocious swimming abilities, it's been very important to me that Zoe be able to swim well. Purely for her own personal safety if nothing more. She's been doing "swim classes" of various sorts since she's been 6 months old. In the US, they were group parent/child water familiarisation classes. When we moved back to Australia and turned three, she was eligible to start doing small-group instructor-led classes with Hampton Swim School. It felt like such an milestone just to no longer have to be in the pool with Zoe.
I was initially quite skeptical of Hampton's methods, compared with what I'd observed at the Betty Wright Swim School (which subsequently had to close due to aging facilities). Having seen how well Zoe's swimming has progressed in 3 quarters of classes is just amazing.
The last few times I've taken Zoe to a public pool for some non-class swim time, her confidence in the water has been fantastic. I've bought some "sinkies", toys that sink to the bottom, and she'll happily dive down to the bottom to retrieve them (with assistance from me getting down there).
Today, to escape the 40 plus degree heat, I took her to the Sleeman Sports Centre, because they have a really cool slide, and the whole thing's indoors.
Zoe was confidently swimming between me and the side of the pool in water that was over her head, repeatedly. So to have her go from being fine in the water as long as she was being held, to actively asking me to go further back from the wall, in under a year has been really excellent progress. She's also "diving" in off the side (it's more like a bad belly flop, but she has brilliant form at the start, with her hands over her head).
We got to the pool today around 10:30am, and it turned out the slide didn't open until 1pm, so we decided to stick around for lunch and wait until the slide opened. To kill time after lunch, we went to the 50 metre pool, where some other kids were taking turns to jump in off the starting blocks. Fearless Zoe wanted to have a go too. This was seriously deep water.
It was really inspiring watching this tiny little girl climb up onto the starting blocks of the 1982 Commonwealth Games 50 metre pool and "dive" into the water, flounder over to me, who was furiously treading water in the middle of the lane, and then flounder over to the side, climb out unassisted and do it all over again. It was a seriously "proud father" moment, while I was trying not to drown myself in the middle of the lane. I wish I'd had someone there with a camera to capture the moment.
I have great hopes for the future of her swimming, and I think she's ready to go up a level in her swim class.