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Swimming with the Fish

I took my ten-year-old son to his first, private swim lesson tonight. I was very worried how this would turn out. The last time we tried swimming lessons was in a class of ten kids with two instructors and my son was three. He went under more than once, and was afraid of water after that. It also didn’t help that my friend had to fish him out of the deep end of her pool, because, since her son swam, my son thought he could too. He couldn’t.

I belong to a wellness center, where I do water PT three times a week for my fibromyalgia. They offered private lessons for $157 for five, half-hour sessions. I knew the instructor, Kevin. He looks like an ex-marine but was always friendly when he came in to swim himself. Kevin usually only taught adults, and I had to convince him to take my son, saying he was a very mature ten-year-old, which he is, and that he follows directions well. Kevin decided to take him on.

During the lesson, I sat outside the pool enclosure and went online at the free computers. I find all the instructors don’t want parents in the pool area because of the distraction for the kids, and so I joined five other parents, sitting outside, on the computers or texting, or playing Nintendo (which I also had in my purse, just in case the half hour didn’t pass quickly. I was in the middle of watching Urban Meyer, the coach of the Florida Gators, give his after game press conference, when Kevin waved me in. It was almost 6:15 p.m.! He wanted to show me how much Conor had accomplished in his first lesson. “He’s going to be an easy teach,” Kevin said, with a big grin on his face.

Here was the kid, who wouldn’t put his face under water for more than a few seconds, swimming laps that included freestroke and backstroke. Next week, we’re to bring swim fins with us. Conor got out of the pool, tired but happy. “Sign me up, Mom!” he said with a giggle. He actually liked the water! I was so happy to see him happy and proud of him at the same time. I knew it took a lot of work for him to accomplish all he did in half hour. He has four more lessons to go. I suspect he’ll be swimming laps by the fifth lesson.

I picked Kevin because I watched a woman, who had never been in a pool, go from hanging on Kevin for dear life, and by her second lesson, she was swimming laps. By herself. Kevin is a swimming whisperer. He has the ability to make it fun, but also to challenge his students. I can’t wait until next Monday, when it’s time to head to the gym again and see what Conor can do. He’s big for his age—5 feet and 110 pounds. He needs to lose a little weight, gained from spending almost the entire summer playing video games. Now he’s talking about trying out for football when he gets to high school. He’s smart, and his hero is Tim Tebow, of the U.of Florida Gators. Now I think he has another hero—Kevin, the swim instructor. It was the best money I’ve paid yet for my son. And it will be a sport he’ll enjoy for a lifetime.

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