EVEN before Santi was born I was dying to take him swimming, and had us signed up to Waterbabies when he was a month old.
I was so pleased that he turned the obligatory 12 weeks old a week before the next course in Llanelli, and started the countdown to getting him in the water.
I thought going to a proper class would give me the confidence to take him on my own … But I didn’t actually think about the logistical nightmare of taking a baby swimming, organised lesson or not!
First of all comes packing … Gone are the days of throwing a towel and shampoo into your bag (and not making the schoolgirl error of forgetting your underwear), we needed a holdall. Honestly, I can fit a weekend’s worth of clothes into the bag I took to the pool for a half hour lesson!
Then you have to cart the little one and all your gear from the car into the building (not easy when your muscles resemble a seven-year-old’s), and then get two of you changed – wrestling a wriggling baby into a swimming nappy, a Happy Nappy, and wetsuit, before finally heading poolside.
Oh, and of course Santi was sick on the changing room seat in front of all the other mothers. Who has the energy to swim after all that?!
Being last into the pool (of course) I missed the introductions, but I think Santi was the youngest there by a few weeks, and the only one who had never been swimming before.
First impressions weren’t great, as his bottom lip came out and he started making pleading eyes with me before his shoulders were wet. Bouncing around distracted him slightly, but instructions on how to adopt the swimming position were drowned out by his wails.
He seemed to enjoy the circles of swish swish, around and up in the air, was happy enough to “fall” in off the edge, and even let me pour water over his face (although by this point I could have sworn he was avoiding eye contact with me).
Then came the moment of truth – dunking the babies underwater.
I noticed the instructor started at the other end of the line … I suppose Santi’s inevitable screams would put everyone on edge, and I was slightly relieved (awful, I know) when one of the other little ones cried on surfacing.
Santi’s turn came, and my job was to catch him from the instructor and bring him up for air. His little face looked so confused when I handed him over, and he barely had time to register me say “Santi, ready, go” before he was dunked.
He was probably under for less than three seconds, but when I caught him I was so proud I could have cried. Ironic really, as that was one of the only parts of the lesson that didn’t reduce him to tears!
Getting out of the pool was the part I’d been worrying about. How was I going to carry a wet and slippery baby through the tiled shower area while hanging onto both of our towels without ending up on a soggy heap on the floor?! Very slowly was the key to avoiding disaster, and despite Santi’s tears while getting dressed (he was so tired by then his eyes were red, poor thing) I really enjoyed the lesson.
To think that in a few short weeks he’ll be able to swim to me underwater, and know how to hold on to the edge of the pool should he ever fall in, is amazing.
And the added bonus is that all the excitement (trauma?) wore my little waterbaby out so much that he slept for three hours … More than enough time for me to enjoy a cuppa and a slice of cake!