Thursday, June 19, 2008

Swimming—The Ultimate Summer Sport

I enjoy swimming. I don’t get to go as often as I used to but I enjoy it when I have the chance. I’m guessing that what defines people’s like or dislike of swimming is knowledge. If you know how to swim, you generally enjoy it.
I grew up near the mammoth Snake River in Idaho. When I went to Utah State University for college and someone showed me the Logan River, I actually laughed out loud. “That’s not a river, that’s a creek!” I said.

The reason I said that is because the irrigation canal right across the road from my house was about the same size as the Logan River. It was then I realized why my mom and dad thought learning to swim was so important. Our “little” irrigation canal is about 12-15 feet across and in most places 4-6 feet deep. It was a great country swimming pool and we spent a lot of time floating on tubes on hot summer days through the mossy, murky waters. My mom was always worried and wanted to make sure we were careful and now that I’m a mother I realize she wasn’t just a worrywart.

My mom enrolled us in swimming lessons at an early age and I’m pretty sure all of us kids completed the Red Cross swimming requirements. I remember taking the swimmer and lifesaving course with a bunch of boys two years older than me who were working on their Eagle Scout requirements. These are very important skills because I’m sure my mom had wondered, “What would happen if one of my kids fell in the canal?”

When my brother was about 6 or 7 years old, this happened. He was walking a friend home along the canal bank and when he returned home, my mom was horrified to find him soaking wet and to learn that he had fallen in the canal, all by himself. But he got out and he didn’t drown and that’s all that mattered.

I just finished two weeks of swimming lessons with my 5 year old daughter. This is the third year we’ve taken lessons, but the first time that they really start to “learn” how to swim. She was pretty scared of the water and hated getting it in her eyes, but by the end of the two weeks I watched her steamboat with a little help across the pool with her face underwater. I also watched her doing the “rainbow back” which is the back float. Now I definitely wouldn’t be comfortable with her falling into any canals yet, but I’m certain that if she keeps it up, she will learn the skills in swimming she needs and also come to enjoy swimming. Of course, we’ll have to go swimming more as a family to give her more exposure and make sure she keeps taking lessons.

So if you haven’t enrolled your children in swimming lessons—Do it! The most dangerous obstacle in swimming and water activities is fear. With knowledge, we overcome fear and are less likely to panic. With knowledge we often learn to enjoy things we used to fear. With knowledge we also discover talents we didn’t know we had.
I’m looking forward to watching the summer Olympic swimmers this year and when I go home for a visit, playing in the irrigation water with my kids. I’m sure in a few years, my kids will also enjoy that country swimming pool as much as I did!
Return to the Neighborhood


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