Friday, April 13, 2012

Lincoln the Fish: Swim Techniques for the One Year Old

Meet Lincoln, my little fish:
The cutest fishy in the sea!
My mom and dad got Lincoln some swim classes at Tucson's Sunshine Swim School for his first birthday. Lincoln just finished the 8th class in his 10 class session today. He LOVES the water! The swim class has been as educational to me as it has been fun for Lincoln. I worry that he is almost more dangerous around the water at this point because he is so excited and confident about being in the water now! Haha. Today, Squire came to watch Lincoln swim and he got a lot of footage and pictures of the class. I will try to make it helpful by explaining the swim exercises I am doing with Lincoln in each video (if there is anything to explain - sometimes, the reason for the video will only be Lincoln's cuteness.) ;)

Lincoln, getting in the water at the beginning of his class - gotta get a drink of that pool water!

Each class begins with a song. Unfortunately, *Cough Cough* Squire didn't catch our rendition of Wheels on the Bus with the splashing babies rotating in a giant circle. Singing is integrated with really little babies to help them calm down and get accustomed to the water, or to a new experience in the water (like floating on their backs.) You can see what a pro I am at keeping my child calm on his back ;) (It's all a work in progress, right?)

A note about back floats: the goal is to teach your child to have an automatic flip and float on their back reaction every time they jump in the water. Especially when they are very little. It is important to have your baby's ears either completely submerged below the water or completely above the water - not half way. Otherwise it is very bothersome to them and can increase their risk for ear infections. You can start out holding your baby on their back with their head in the crook of your neck and shoulder, with one hand on their forehead to teach them to have their heads back, and one supporting their back underneath them for more security. Eventually, when they hold calmly on their backs that way, you can hold them with one hand on their forehead, and one supporting underneath their head and their bodies can float unassisted.

After the song, we usually get the babies practicing their kicks. We help them hold on on one of our shoulders and we move their legs in a kicking motion saying, "Kick, kick, kick, kick, kick!" Lincoln is starting to do a tiny bit of kicking independently, albeit more with his right leg than with his left. You've got to start somewhere! :)

Lincoln was really glad Dad came to watch him swim,
so much so that he got distracted from his kicking:

A part of each swim class is devoted to teaching the babies how to kick to and then hold on to the wall, how to do monkey walks alongside it, and how to climb out of the pool.

When working with your baby on these aspects, you hold your hands stiff underneath their triceps so they still have the feeling of buoyancy in the water, but they feel safe as well. To teach them to do monkey walks, you simply lift up lightly under one arm at a time, making sure they know to grab firm on the wall each time they move their hand.

Teaching babies how to climb out is simple enough. You move their bodies while you tell them, "Elbow, elbow, tummy, knee, knee." Lincoln is getting stronger each swim lesson. He has been able to pull himself up out of the pool with little support from me (except as a human stepping stool) several times now. Here is funny little video of Lincoln climbing out of the pool worth watching. He definitely knew he wanted the red toy - not the diving ring I was trying to interest him with:

Notice how I turned Lincoln right onto his back once he was in the water. This is a safety reflex we teach the babies. Every time they jump in the water, we flip them on their backs immediately into a back float, and try to keep them calm there for several seconds as we whisper, "Safety, safety, safety" into their little ears:

Each class, we also take several minutes teaching our babies to sit still on the steps without getting up out of pool, or diving into the water. Lincoln was perfect at this the first few classes, but his ever-growing confidence has made him worse! Last class and today we had to let him jump in and stay under the water for a couple seconds to teach him the consequences of jumping in the water unassisted. He's getting better. Toys are always helpful to pass the time sitting on the steps. Lincoln is such a ham - he totally came up with the peeking through the dive rings like that on his own:

While one baby waits on the steps, the other gets a little one-on-one swim time with the instructor. Guess what Lincoln's swim instructor's name is? Alma. Yeah, he's totally Mormon. Haha. Even if he wanted to, he could never escape Mormonism with a name like Alma. (Alma is the name of one of the prophets in the Book of Mormon.)

Enjoying swimming with "Mr.Alma."
And the scariest part for the parents?! Dunking your baby under water! Each class we dunk our babies under the water 4-5 times to get them used to holding their breath. But, you don't just do it cold turkey. You swing them side-to-side three times, and on the fourth time you blow air into their face right up until their face gets submerged. The blowing air in their faces teaches them to hold their breath before the dunking. It is very intimidating the first time or two, but with practice it becomes comfortable. Several classes ago, Alma took pictures of our babies underwater. We will get a copy at the end of the course. I will post it when I get it! :)

Happy to be dunked!
And finally, you can see us waiting our turn for the most exciting part of class . . .

. . . a trip down the slide of course!

All snuggled up in a towel with mom!

We've really enjoyed the classes at Sunshine Swim School and highly recommend them! Though, I think we will master the skills we worked on with Lincoln in the course of ten classes at a community pool for a few months until we enroll him in his next course with Sunshine. I feel confident that I could teach any of my future babies these swim basics now. And, it has been a great way for Lincoln and I to bond even more. :) Yay for baby swim classes, for grandparents who give them as birthday presents, and my charming, adorable, happy little baby boy. :)


  1. Cute! My girls love the water and I am greatly looking forward to swimming with them this summer, and I might have to use these tricks. Thanks for sharing. And P.S. Alma actually used to be a fairly common FEMALE name.

    1. I hope those tricks help! :) Interesting about Alma previously being popular for girls. Still think it's a Mormon label for a white guy though! Haha.

  2. So cute! I'm so sad that San Antonians are afraid of water at all times except for the broiling summer. Really guys? 85-90 degrees is hot enough to have the pools open. There seems to be a requisite here that it be at least 100 degrees every day before the pools open. Poor Miles has never had a swim lesson.
    Don't you love having Lincoln in them though? He is such a cutie!
    Oh, and Max told me the other day, "Remember Jami who lived downstairs of us. I miss her. She made me an ironman mask." :)

    1. @ Amy: How weird! The pool is perfect right now. We have had one class or two when it was in the low 80's/high 70's, but since the pool is heated, it hasn't been a problem at all. Certainly not for me, or the babies. Those San Antonians need to get with the program! Haha. Hopefully Miles can swim in couple more months. Thank you for telling me that about Max! I miss him too! I can't believe how big your boys are getting, Amy. I wish we still lived close.

  3. This is really great!

    1. Thanks, Amanda! Maybe we can go to the rec center together sometime and try some of these things with Jenna?! :)

  4. Thanks for the videos, I loved watching them.

    1. You're welcome, Mom! I'm glad you liked them. We filmed all these mostly for you and Dad. Thanks again for his classes. That was an awesome first birthday gift. :)



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