My sister Jackie invited us over to her house to swim this afternoon, because it was going to be hot and sunny. My kids have been dying to go swim there for the past week, so it was a king of obvious choice for us to go.
Zane, who is nearly 10, still doesn't know how to swim, and we've gotten past the point where that is at all acceptable, so this afternoon i decided to force the issue a little bit. I let him wear the kind of goggles that cover the eyes and nose, and then i taught him how to do the simple "swim without moving your arms by pushing off the side and kicking your legs" stroke. (That's totally the technical name.) And it was a bit of a struggle to convince him that he HAD to put his face in the water, that he couldn't learn to swim properly if he was trying to keep his head above water. But eventually we got to the point where he could swim almost from one end of the pool to the other before he panicked and stopped to come up for air. And so then i left him alone for an hour and a half, to swim and play as he wanted to.
And then i pulled him aside again and told him to try swimming without the face mask this time...and that's where i lost him.
Me: "You won't always have goggles with you, especially in an emergency!"
Zane: "But i'm going to get water up my nose!"
Me: "Plug your nose, then."
Zane: "Everything will be different then!"
Me: "It'll be fine. Just try. Here...you can just go this far instead of all the way across." (I move to about 6 feet in front of him.)
Zane: "I won't be able to see!"
Me: "I'm right here. I won't let you swim into the deep end or anything."
Zane: "But i've never done this!"
And on and on and on. There are two problems here: He hates to get his face wet, and he hates new and uncertain experiences. It was half an hour of me encouraging and him trying to work his way up to actually putting his face in the water, and finally he kind of, sort of put his face in the water and kind of, sort of swam, and i called it good enough.
He immediately got out of the pool and wrapped himself in a towel and was finished for the day. (Everyone else was finished within 10 minutes too, so that was fine.) I sat next to him on the swing and talked with him about being brave, and he told me, "But i'm in Gryffindor! That means i'm brave!" And i agreed that he IS brave, but that means doing things even when you're afraid, and he didn't like that explanation very much at all.
Anyhow. I'm hopeful that this is the year that he'll actually learn to mostly swim. Fingers crossed.