Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Swimming Lessons Reconsidered

Raphaela and I have been swimming together once a week, for the last two and a half years. We swim at the same pool in Jerusalem where Israel's Olympic athletes train from childhood.

At first her progress was remarkable, and I constantly marveled at her courage even as a baby.  But several months ago, when Raphaela was on the cusp of full fledged swimming and diving on her own, she froze for some as yet unknown reason, and her lessons became a half-hour session of "No!"

At home I would tell Raphaela to prepare for the pool, and receive a wildly enthusiastic response.  When we entered the water, I would watch the emergence of a broad smile on Raphaela's face.  Once, however, the actual class had begun, it became quite frankly a waste of time and money, week after week.

The teacher, whom I respect both as a person and as an experienced instructor, has attempted to pull Raphaela out of this rut, to no avail.  She has suggested that if no other solution can be found, that we take a break of several months;  a pressure free time where swimming is neither a chore nor an obligation. I am inclined to agree, and even take partial responsibility for a certain aspect of this setback;  I definitely feel that we would see higher achievement and motivation if there were another adult (husband, baby sitter, grandparent etc) in the water with her besides Mommy.

In fact, the initial goal of the lessons, ie to make Raphaela comfortable in the water, had been accomplished a long time ago.

If I am being honest with myself, as a former lifeguard and a lover of swimming, my frustration stems from a sub-conscious desire to see my daughter share this passion, and yes, to maybe some day train professionally and compete.  I know I must let go, and as a parent I must learn not to impose my dreams and fantasies upon my daughter.  Raphaela is her own person, she has her own map for her life, and I don't want to foil her destiny by playing out my secret desires through her.


Midlife Singlemum said...

Could you continue to go swimming as just a fun activity for the two of you and take a break from the lessons. Maybe it's being told what to do rather than simply playing and having fun in the water that is stressing her out?

Doc said...

That's the plan

Ariela said...

This is my belief as a mother of 5 kids, all of whom love to swim (although that is besides the point)
No child "needs" after school activities
Children should not be in after school (gan) activities before first or second grade. If they are in gan until 16:00, they need to come home and chill and do unstructured stuff. It is too much for a 3 y/old to be in any type of chug.
Meaning, it is a great decision to take her out of the swim lessons.

Commenter Abbi said...

Wholeheartedly agree with Ariela. Both my girls did an intense 10 day swim course when they were 5 and 7. Both learned to become excellent swimmers and love it.

She has plenty of time to catch swimming fever. Don't write her off yet!