It’s just over a year since I first published this blog post, and I wanted to update it. We finally signed Hattie and Joe up for formal swimming lessons in late 2016, not long before they turned four, and they’ve had weekly 20 minute swimming lessons ever since. They have both picked it up very well. Hattie, in particular, has developed a real love of the water, which has been influenced by meeting a wonderful teacher – a really calm, patient, and hugely effective woman who has managed to impart to Hattie the belief that practise really does help us to become good at thing (which is something Hattie has struggled to grasp, what with her apparent in-built perfectionist streak as associated fear of failure). Joe was working with a different teacher, but he’s now in the same class as Hattie, and is also thriving.
Something that has definitely supported their progress is their frequent weekend pool trips with Tristan (and occasionally with me too, when essays allow it). Both children love being in the water, and Hattie has become utterly fearless: leaping into the deepest water; confidently diving to the bottom of the pool; and clearly backing herself to ‘swim’ (dog paddle) to a parent, or the side of the pool, over a distance of a few metres. And both children are now learning how to move their arms in preparation of freestyle, and it’s easy to that they’ll both get the knack of it within the next year. Joe has a slightly languid kicking pace, which affects his swimming style somewhat, but he’ll get the hang of it. One of our main motivations for the kids learning – other than the fact that swimming is an essential life skill – is to enable them to join our local surf lifesaving club in a year or two (both because it will give them opportunities to participate in other water sports, and because it’s a hugely sociable activity that they’ll be able to do at our local beach, with kids they’ll know from school). I’m sure they’ll be raring to go by the time they join the club.
And my big message, for twin parents who’ve felt bad about not taking their babies to swimming at an early age, is this: Hattie and Joe are rapidly overtaking kids who’ve had lessons for far longer. When kids are three and a half or older, their capacity to learn is so much greater. And four and a half year olds are truly like little sponges with regard to learning new skills. So by all means take your kids swimming/splashing around when they’re younger, as feeling confident in the water makes life much easier when they do start formally learning how to swim, but don’t stress about it if you can’t manage lessons before they’re old enough to jump in and work with an instructor without you. They’ll catch up!