My love of water is thanks to my mum who, despite not being able to swim herself – or maybe because of that – sat through hours and hours of watching me do widths and then lengths at various clubs as a child.
She took me to Water Babies before I could walk – I still have my badge for swimming a width unaided in a box in the loft – and made sure that while I had a healthy respect for water, both in the pool and in the sea, it held no fear for me.
I wanted to make sure my daughter was the same and once she started enjoying the baby bath, I switched to taking her in the big bath with me and letting her splash around (the bathroom floor has never been the same since). Because of my own history with the group, I knew I wanted to take her to Water Babies and my mum (and dad) very kindly offered to pay for a term of lessons.
I don’t know whether Freya just assumed it was a big bath with other babies to splash with (or maybe she just liked the way her squeals bounced off the walls) but she adored it from the word go and once the term came to an end I was keen to carry on the good work.
My husband had the afternoon off yesterday and we decided to go for a swim at the local pool but we were rather shocked when it came to £9 for what turned out to be a 30-minute splash about.
It got me thinking about a story which revealed a worrying 51% of children aged seven to 11 in the UK are unable to swim the length of a typical pool unaided. I know that primary aged children are supposed to receive lessons as part of the National Curriculum, and clearly that is not happening as much as it should, but the survey also showed that one in 10 parents said their child only swam while on holiday. Surely cost has got to be at least part of the reason?
I want Freya to have the same confidence in the water as me and I would like swimming to be something we can do as a family. However, £9 for what, at the moment, amounts to us bouncing her around in the water or trolling her along shouting “kick, kick, kick” in a slightly frantic way is probably a bit beyond our means more than say once a month, if that.
For £9 she could go to messy play (£4), baby music class (£1) and do baby sign classes (£4). I’m not saying these are better or worse than swimming but they are all good for her development.
I know pools are expensive to run but surely, if it is clear the parents are not going to swim, as such, there could be a bit of leeway? Maybe only one parent pays? Or maybe I am being unrealistic and things cost what they cost and we just need to get our priorities straight? I think if we want parents to help teach children to swim then something needs to be done to encourage it.
What do you think? Please feel free to comment and let me know.