Parenting Guru: Can a bad swimmer teach her kid to swim? I investigate.

I'm not a very good swimmer, never have been. Despite a childhood filled with swimming lessons and endless summers in my neighbor's pool, I still suck. It's like my arms and legs can't come to an agreement on how to move through water with speed or grace. So maybe my body isn't built for swimming, it's a truth I've learned to accept which probably has way more to do with the horror of getting in a swimsuit than actually swimming anyway.

My family and I spend our summers at my parents' pool. From the time my son was very young it was important to me that he learned how to swim. As a toddler he loved splish-splashy play but had no interest in swimming whatsoever. I took his cue and held off for a time, keeping water play fun and light. I hoped the following summer he'd be ready - he wasn't. Nope, my kid was content to sit on the pool steps submerged in 6 inches of water and splash around while everyone else engaged in crazy water acrobatics and swim races. I tried floaties, fun inner tubes and rafts; he didn't care. Hmm, perhaps this kid was missing the swimming gene; he was my son after all. It was clear this swimming thing wasn't going to be easy. It bothered me, maybe more than it should have. I had visions of my son as an awkward 7th grader struggling in the shallow end of the pool while mean kids splashed him with cannon balls. Ugh, please don't let him be that kid.

With gentle encouragement and mild persistence I tried all summer. Operation Learn How to Swim was a bust of epic proportion. Maybe it was me? Maybe I was a bad teacher? Or maybe all those summers spent splashing on the stairs he was secretly judging my swimming abilities…oh my gosh, I hope not. Maybe he just wasn't ready yet; he still had a few years before being thrown in the deep end in junior high so I let another summer pass.

After three failed summers of trying, at 6 years old he was finally ready. It was then I learned that far greater than his fear of swimming was his fear of dead floating bugs and leaves in the pool (so now he tells me). Once the pool was skimmed to his satisfaction, we worked on floating, submersion, breathing and technique. By golly, he was getting it - and fast! Hallelujah, the spell had been broken!

We continued practicing all summer and much to my relief, my son was a regular fish in the water. Take that mean 7th graders! Confident and daring in his swimming abilities, by the end of summer he challenged me to a race and won...and sadly, not because I let him.

Mommyfriend goes by Lori Garcia in real life and is a Shine Parenting Guru. She writes at where she's busy finding perfection in imperfection daily. When she's not watching infomercials she's a Featured Lifestyle Contributor for Yahoo! Contributor Network.


What was the biggest mess your little ones ever left you?

Poll Choice Options