Swimming Lessons

Today we visited a friend of mine from university, up at her house near Seletar Airport. She lives in the far north of Singapore, where housing is cheap and big because nobody wants to live somewhere so remote that it can take half an hour to drive to the centre of town.

Her house is big enough to have a swimming pool and a trampoline in the back garden; I didn’t fancy having Felicity get airborne just yet, but it was a good opportunity to get her accustomed to swimming.

At a few days short of six months, Felicity hasn’t quite progressed to front crawl yet. For now, lessons are about getting her used to water. This young, she (apparently) retains the reflex to not attempt breathing while immersed. This allows my wife to perch her on the edge of the pool, and then recite Humpty Dumpty to her.

Or rather,

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall-

– at which point she whisks Felicity off the side of the perch and down into the water, then brings her back up from her full submersion into the air again, before Felicity has a chance to get mad at the atmosphere for vanishing while she’s underwater. She squawks a bit, but thankfully doesn’t melt down completely, and then my wife returns her to the edge of the swimming pool and starts in on Humpty Dumpty again.

I assume you shouldn’t try this yourself, without supervision from trained and qualified professionals, and certainly not with anyone else’s kids.

I was never taught to swim like this. As my mother pointed out, she lost countless hours watching me not learn to swim as a child, whereas my sister took to swimming like … like a duck to water. Hey, what I lack in marine ability, I make up for with my ability to reuse hoary old similes.

Perhaps if I’d had the Humpty Dumpty Method, instead of an over chlorinated pool with thirty other snot-nosed children all complaining about their stinging eyes ("if you don’t want your eyes to sting, go to the loo before you swim"), I might have learned quicker.

Or developed a really weird neurosis about nursery rhymes involving giant eggs, and water.

And I did learn to swim, after a fashion. Ok, I then forgot how to swim each year and had to learn from scratch again, but at least that kept swimming instructors in stable jobs.

Eventually, when I was 19 or so, a friend told me to jump into the Olympic sized pool at Crystal Palace, which I did. And then sank to the bottom. Maybe that was the Humpty Dumpty Method, but for adults.

Perhaps this means in 2014 I need to be more diligent about swimming lessons for myself, too.


3 responses to “Swimming Lessons”

  1. Swimming lessons for adults are great! I could only swim a length at a time until I was about 27 then I had 3 lessons with this woman who said, “Do this not that, and that not this, oh and wear some goggles too so you can see where you are going.” Now I plough up and down for up to an hour, for fun.

    • Sounds awesome. I have goggles, so nothing should be holding me back. And if that doesn’t work, I can always get my wife to start dunking me while singing “The Grand Old Duke Of York”

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