I MADE my 8 year old son join the swim team this year. He's one of those boys who is loved for his gentleness and good heart, but he's not so very athletic. For the past two years, I've asked and he's flatly turned me down, "That pool is too long. I could never make it to the other end." He played in the baby pool at 7 years old (!) while his older brothers swam on the team. I couldn't bear the thought of another wasted summer watching this son as he chased three year olds in a foot of water.
I dragged him to swimming lessons in the winter to build strength and confidence. He gained a bit of skill but was still challenged by the length of the pool.
This year, I gave him no outs. He spent a few weeks at swim team practice, stopping during freestyle to stand gasping for breath and then pushing off the bottom and swimming a little ways only to stop again. It was painful to watch. He looked like a drowning cat, complete with scowl and desparation as he clawed at the water. He would be disqualified for pushing off the bottom in a swim meet.
It wasn't too long till a coach showed him breaststroke. He realized he could take a breath each stroke, and it turned his whole swim season around. It was a way for him to make the distance without stopping on the bottom. That day he said," I will never swim freestyle, back, or butterfly. I will only ever be able to swim breaststroke." He spent the next few practices only swimming breaststroke, but he started gaining stamina he couldn't work up to before. So when he experimented again with freestyle, he could make it down the pool without stopping (IF he took his head all the way out of the water like breaststroke). A week or two later, he made up his mind to try backstroke and VIOLA! He figured it out quickly. Soon, he conquered butterfly, and not long after figured out rotary breathing (turning head to side) for freestyle.
Yesterday was the Smoky Mountain Invitational Swim Meet. He swam like a pro if you don't count when he completely missed the start of a race, and didn't begin until all the rest of swimmers were halfway down the pool. He's nowhere near the top swimmers of his age, but he's strong and quite competant in the water.
His Summer goal is more than MET.
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