Can a kid learn to swim by sheer force of will? If so, I think Owen will learn to swim in the next few weeks before the weather turns cold. Contrary to, umm, reality… Owen is certain he can swim without my help.
We’ve spent a lot of time in the water this summer. Pool, lake, ocean… Owen doesn’t discriminate. The kid is fearless, headstrong and sees absolutely no reason why he can’t just walk right out into the deep water.
Except for one thing. He’s a sinker.
I am not sure of the science behind this, or maybe it’s totally false, but I think people are either sinkers or floaters. Some people are just more buoyant than others. Owen, however, is not one of them. In fact, neither am I. I learned how to float, sure, and I learned how to swim way back when I was tiny. But I’m no Michael Phelps. I can dive and do silly jumps off the diving board and play pool games, but I always lost at Sharks & Minnows and was never, never up for a race.
So far we haven’t used floaties or water wings or vests or inner tubes with Owen – he has been in shallow water, on a step or platform, or in someone’s arms. Previously I thought this would help him learn to swim faster (without the false security of a floatation device), but now I think all it has done is given me about a million gray hairs. The kid has NO SENSE that if his head goes under water, he will drown. He loves to dunk his face and blow bubbles and even when he falls in or dunks unexpectedly, he always comes up with a huge grin.
He kicks his legs and paddles his arms and totally “gets” the swimming movements.
The only problem is… I don’t know what to do next to teach him how to swim. He desperately wants to learn, but I honestly don’t know what to do other than to slowly remove my hands and let him figure out what he needs to do to keep his body floating. And that sounds like a good plan until you see my kid paddling and kicking and making all the right motions… and sinking.
While on vacation a couple weeks ago my 5 year old niece was showing off her new “swimming without floaties” mad skillz and she tried to show Owen how to float on his back like a starfish. But for some odd reason, Owen would NOT lay on his back. He will do everything else in the water, frontwards, backwards and upside down, but apparently will not lay on his back. (Side note: he does it in the bath no problem, but I think his heavy little butt is sitting on the bottom of the tub). How do you explain the concept of floating? Of holding your breath? He seems to naturally understand the need to hold his breath under the water, but not the concept of taking a breath BEFORE going underwater to help him float. Floating seems to escape him. And I am at a loss for how to move forward in teaching him to swim.
The good news is that he only just turned 2. He doesn’t need to learn how to swim this summer. Since we have no plans to do swim classes year round (we do music class and other activities instead), he will likely forget this skill next year anyway (right? not really sure…). So probably the best solution is to let him continue to splash and kick and dunk and love the water, but not try to “teach” him anything more than that.
Thoughts? Can 2 year olds swim short distances, like between two parents? How do you teach a kid to float?