Harper started swimming when she was about 5 weeks old. Well, technically I guess you can say she was already a pro by then because she spent 9 months in my tummy doing back flips, high dives and practicing the backstroke (she was pretty active in there). Freddie and I first realized that Harper was a little fish when we would bathe her in her baby bath. Every time we would put her on her belly to wash her back her legs would get to kickin’ and her arms were movin’. But the baby bath left her no room to hone her skills. So we had to find a place where Harper could spread her fins.
Not having a pool of our own, I started looking around for a place to take Harper swimming. I happened to have a friend who had her son in a swim class, so I thought I would check it out. The pool was indoors, the water temperature was kept at 92 degrees and the chlorine level was at the lowest legal limit. When Harper and I went to watch for the first time, the babies looked like they were having a blast. It seemed like the perfect fit. So we immediately decided to enroll Harper in a weekly class. Here she is on her first day, bikini and all!
Harper is at home in the water. Her first time in the pool she was immediately at ease. She rested her head on my shoulder and let out a big sigh, as to say, “Now that’s more like it”. Harper loves her swim class. I believe she looks forward to going. Whenever it is time for class we sing a little song to let her know that it is time to go. Her face lights up and she gets very excited.
Once we arrive at the pool, she can’t wait to get in the water. On entry, Harper does a submersion into the pool (similar to what you saw in the video). She has been doing this since the beginning. Babies instinctively hold their breath when you blow on their face. So initially, that is how she learned to hold her breath before being submerged into the water. But now, she does it automatically when given the cue that it is time to go swimming. She closes her mouth, shuts her eyes, throws her arms out and swims to me.
After she is in the pool, we practice all sorts of safety skills. This is the basis of baby swimming class, in addition to getting them accustomed to the water. Harper learns how to hold on to the side, which we call finding her safe spot, as well as floating on her back, which is called a sea otter. She also works on her kicking, her “scooping” and more submersions. At the end of the class Harper practices climbing out of the pool by alternating her elbows and then her knees with assistance from her dad. She takes a quick rinse off in the shower before we take her home for a proper bath. After she is all nice and clean, Harper is ready for a nice snack and a long nap.
This activity has been such a great bonding experience for our family. I think it has been fun for Harper to build on an innate skill. I believe thriving at an activity she enjoys boosts her self-confidence. She gets very proud of herself. Teaching Harper to stay active is another important life lesson we hope she carried with her. But most importantly, Harper is having fun. And that is what it is all about!