by Amanda Y Well after that teaser week of summer in Ottawa, it has made me start itching for the real thing so we can go swimming regularly up at the cottage. Since he was 3 (now almost 5) J has regularly been taking swimming lessons through the City of Ottawa. The first round of lessons was really an adjustment period because he refused to participate for the most of the lessons. He would get in the water but not cooperate with the instructor. However, since then he has been quite happy about going, some of the tasks are hit or miss with him, he doesn't love having water in his face or ears, but over time, things have improved. The spring session started last week and I swear, that was a totally different kid in the water! He was dunking his head, happily floating on his back, front float has improved drastically, he will actually put his face in the water, tentatively, but he used to outright refuse! He loves to play the games like "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" and "Red light green light" It's too bad the lessons are only 30 minutes long, I think he would benefit from a longer lesson, even another 15 minutes would be great!
The City of Ottawa's Learn to Swim Program offers the Red Cross swimming levels. They include Parent and Me classes, Preschool classes, and School-Aged program (up to 12 yrs old).
Not only are swimming lessons fun, but swimming is also a very important skill for a child to have. Many people have a fear of water and so having lessons in childhood can help to prevent this. Fear leads to panic and if you panic in the water, the outcome is terrible. Just knowing how to handle yourself in the water can prevent so many accidental drownings. Of course, even the best swimmers can drown, and I highly promote the use of life jackets in boats and on inexperienced swimmers in deep water. Simply knowing how to float and keep your head above water is a critical skill, in my opinion. I am a strong swimmer, my parents insisted we take swimming lessons and I am doing the same for J. It is also the kind of class that grows with the child. They continue to build upon and learn new skills including rescue maneuvers and CPR. Also something to think about: teens who become lifeguards and swimming instructors are paid quite well. They can work at city pools as well as summer camps earning their own money. The benefits just keep adding up.
For information about how your teen could become a lifeguard visit the National Lifesaving Society's website.
Who knows if J will ever go that far, but what's important to me is that he learn to swim and be comfortable around water.
Amanda was born and raised in Ottawa where she continues to live with her husband and son “J”. Amanda is bilingual and interests include reading, blogging, socializing, and advocacy on children and teen issues.