A couple years ago I took Eli to a local swim club for swimming lessons. In those lessons he learned how to jump into a pool, float on his back, and perform a basic “head in the water” stroke.
Up to a year ago I was taking Eli to the pool twice a week. As part of the swim I required that to start he jump in the pool. From there it was “play time” with a bit of practice mixed in.
This last year we have avoided the pool for a number of reasons, but with the summer approaching we decided to get Eli back into the water. One if his favorite activities in the past has been the gym’s water slide. Well, last year and this year they instituted a “swim test” requirement for the slide. Last year we did not swim at the gym enough to worry about it. But this year Eli has been chomping at the bit to go down the slide.
Kay and I had taken Eli to the pool about five times recently when he proclaimed that he was going to take his swimming test! That day Elijah (son of Sensei Tim) was at the pool and had his bracelet on indicating that he had passed the 25 meter swim test and was allowed unrestricted access to all the pools benefits. Since Elijah was there Eli did not want to be left behind. So while we are practicing swimming some Eli tells me “Dad, get mom, I am going to take the swimming test.”
Eli and I gather up Kay and over to the lap pool we go. The lifeguard shows up and I ask him what the ramification of Eli failing the test will be. I am informed that Eli could take the test as many times as he likes. I explain that neither my wife nor I think Eli has a chance in heck of passing the test.
Kay and I go over the rules of the test with Eli. You fail if you touch the side of the pool or the lane divider. You will fail if you touch the bottom of the pool. You fail if you drown. (That last one is never spoken out loud.) Elijah comes over and tells Eli that he knows he can do it!
Eli jumps in, gets his bearings and starts swimming. He splits the lane down the middle and keeps that path strong. For the first 1/3 of the lane he is doing a pretty good breast stroke, but not using his feet that much. Afterward he goes to a sort of dog-paddle with his feet kicking hard. Around 2/3 of the way he just stops and floats to get his breath. Then it is back to a hybrid dog-paddle/crawl. Kay and I go from a resolution of his failure to an incredulous belief that he can pass the test.
At the end of the swim Eli almost fails. He sees the ladder at the side of the pool and starts to swim towards it. I jump over to the end of the lane and we all holler that he needs to swim to me. Eli changes course back to the middle of the lane and finishes the last 10 feet strong. He then pulls himself out of the pool without assistance. HE PASSED!!
The rest of that day, and a couple hours of the next are filled with Eli playing in the “deeper” part of the pool and wearing out the slides.
And Kay and I learn this lesson “again”. Never underestimate Eli!