Today we took Ripley for his first swimming lesson, and considering how he enjoys his bath times these days, we were pretty sure that he would love a bit of swimming – we weren’t wrong!
We decided to go with Puddle Ducks and were so glad that we did! Originally I had actually thought about using Water Babies however during just the booking process I didn’t find them to be all that helpful, I had to chase them for taking payment and they didn’t return my calls in a decent time so in the end we thought about calling it a day with them. We went for Puddle Ducks instead after a few friends also started using them and found them to be really helpful and quick with getting back to you, which was a great start!
They’ve got a really nice online system which lets you see how many classes you’ve paid for and to manage your account. One thing which this allows for is that one of the early lessons was cancelled (and we also lost out on one lesson as we already had other plans for my birthday and then the next week this poor little guy had conjunctivitis) which meant that the money we had paid can either be refunded or will stay on our online profile until next term and will come off our payment for when he moves up to the next class (he is currently in floaties but will become a splasher from 6 months).
Then finally the instructors and helpers on the day are incredibly nice, professional and great at dealing with both nervous first time parents and excited little swimmers!
The Pool & Facilities
Our closest lessons are in Dover, held at the Duke of York military school. As a result it is a really nice and clean pool, kept at a pretty warm temperature, which is perfect for tiny swimmers. The depth of the pool at the shallow end is perfect for what they’re doing as it allows you to keep nice and low in the water for some of the activities whilst being able to just stand up if needed to raise both yourself and the baby out of the water.
There’s also a fairly decent amount of space around the edges for spectators to be able to watch you during your lesson (you’re allowed to take one person with you, which is also handy for helping afterwards when getting changed). The only weird thing was that at the back of the bench which they sit on has a bunch of holes which some kind of cold aircon wind was coming out of.
The changing rooms to be honest are the only problem, in that they’re pretty small – at least the men’s is, I was told that the ladies is a little bigger. When you’re just getting yourself changed, they’re fine, it’s only next time I go without my wife that they’ll be a little awkward for me as I will be having to change Ripley on the floor before getting myself ready.
BUT… I’m not going to let some small changing rooms (let’s face it, they’re for kids so they’re not going to be huge) put a downer on what was otherwise a great set of facilities for this activity.
The Lesson Itself
You start out with getting in the pool (obviously), but you do so without the baby… Your instructor bring the baby in to the pool and hands it back to you which is a nice way to make sure you don’t need to worry about that part.
There’s a safety hold which you learn first, putting their head on your shoulder, cheek to cheek, with one arm over their chest and the other underneath them – it’s actually a really nice and secure way to hold them in the water and having their cheek against yours, you always know where their mouth is without having to look at them 100% of the time.
There are some other activities to get them used to the feel of the water and to learn some actions from you (such as spitting the water out if it gets in their mouth), and of course, as there always seems to be with baby stuff, there’s some group participation singing… awesome!
During these lessons you learn a lot about what your little one can do in the water and how to get the most out of them, it teaches you to be able to handle them in a calm way in the water and it teaches them to relax in the water too… All in all you learn a variety of lessons to take not only to your next lesson, but also to your next time at the pool on your own.
I can’t wait to improve his confidence in the water and my skills in taking him there, so that we can use these in future holidays. Why not learn how to safely let them enjoy the pool with you!
He absolutely loved his time in the water, and was one of the only ones who didn’t cry, so I’m hoping that right here I’ve found the perfect activity for myself and him to share with one another!
Can’t wait for our next swim!