I've posted about it in passing a handful of times, but I've never made a post specifically for swim lessons. It's among those things I'd been "meaning to" for so, so long, but now I'll just pop in a bit of backstory as relevant to the picture post that I'm wanting to make.
The boys began taking swim lessons over a year ago - on May 1, 2007, in fact. As with every new 'first,' I did take along my camera for the event, and I took over 200 pictures that evening during their first lessons. (Hey, I had to document it well, as I needed to have lots of photographic evidence to email to Philip in Iraq, right?) I had tried to sign them up in March, but by the time I arrived at the Lied Center, all the spots were taken. The same thing happened to me in April, even though I went hours earlier on the special "sign-up day." Finally in May, I was at the Center right when the doors opened, and I secured them spots.
I had asked a few questions about level assignment when I was registering them, but the head swim instructor (Leslie) was not there, and the man who answered my questions wasn't really sure of anything specific. I told him the skills that each of the boys had, and he placed them in levels. As it turned out on the day of their first lesson, both boys were incorrectly placed.
I had enrolled Jack in the Preschool level because, well, he *was* in Preschool in May 2007. Not only that, but he'd never had any swim education before. A.J. had a bit over the summer of 2006, as Philip and I had made concerted efforts to teach him certain things, and so he began in Level 2. By the end of the first lesson, however, Jack was blowing his peers out of the water (no, not literally!), and so he was moved up into Level 1.
And they have made slow, steady progress. During the summer, they had swim lessons two nights as week, and on other days, I took them to the pool 2-3x/week as well. We had a LOT of swimming last year! During those heavily-watered months, the boys made better progress in lessons, having more of an opportunity to practice their skills. Once the school year began in August, we decided to keep them in swim lessons all year. We figured that it would be easier to keep their skills up to par (if they lapsed until summer again this year, they'd probably forget quite a bit), and they would have the opportunity to advance a bit more. During those school months, however, the Lied Center drops their lessons from twice a week down to just once - on Saturday mornings for 30 minutes.
So, after nearly 14 months of swim lessons, Jack and A.J. are now in Levels 3 and 4, respectively. We anticipate Jack passing Level 3 at the end of this month, as he passed his "mock test" on the second-to-last lesson last month, but then decided to goof around during the real test. *shakes head* He was pretty disappointed to learn his results, and I think he learned a valuable lesson in that. We're not sure yet whether A.J. will advance to Level 5 after this month, or whether he'll need another round still. Either way, he absolutely adores swimming lessons, and we're happy that he does.
Whereas Jack has currently picked soccer as his sport of choice, A.J. has his eyes set on swimming. We've promised him that once he finishes all six levels offered at the Lied Center, we will then enroll him in the Bellevue Swim Club for competitive swimming. He is so stoked for that day to come!
And it has been so very nice this year to know that the boys are fully independent in the water. Last summer, it was tough on me all the many times I took them swimming: Jack wasn't quite good enough to swim unsupervised by me (even with lifeguards all around), which meant that I couldn't really enjoy seeing A.J. swim on his own. Not only that, but our favorite pool has two special waterslides, and Jack was 1/2" too short to ride them on his own. Of course, the waterslides were his favorite part, and because I had to ride with him each and every time (picture about 20 times each swimming day!), I missed so much of what A.J. was doing - I couldn't see *him* go down the slides, I only caught a handful of his jumps from the diving boards (and it was his first summer to attempt the high-dive, too!), and I couldn't really see his "free play" in the shallower ends. And because Philip was deployed, there really was only me most of the time, and I just don't split well enough in two. *sigh*
Not this year, however. For one thing, Philip and I can both be there. For another, the boys are BOTH now fully independent in the water. By the end of Level 2 in swim lessons, children have mastered the concepts of the basic freestyle. A.J. has spent the last two levels working on different strokes and technique perfection, and Jack has done the same and is now almost two levels past that as well. While being able to swim proficiently allows you access to the diving boards, there is still a height requirement for the waterslides. Thankfully, Jack has grown almost 1-1/2" since last summer, so he now can do that on his own as well!
We first went to the pool this past Tuesday night. Jack was a belly full of butterflies as he approached the height-checking pole, but when it became clear that he was plenty tall enough, you could see his HUGE grin from a hundred feet away, I'll bet! He was so proud to sport the new "adult" band on his wrist that we now all get to wear. :-)
And, being that it was a 'first' occasion, I had my camera in tow. I took tons of pictures, including those of Jack's first solo slides, his first jumps off the high-dive, and also playing in the water. I was so proud of him. And the difference is so evident in A.J.'s skill once he's set free in loose waters (the lessons are very controlled, so it's hard to get a good idea of what your child can *really* do) - he's phenomenal! His strokes are spot-on, and it was so amazing to watch him beeline across the pool!
But for now, I'll shut up about the lessons and the swimming and leave you with several pictures. :-)
Jack at the very end of the 'Curvy Slide.'( And many more! )