Friday was "Water Safety Day" at swimming lessons. The kids listened to water safety rules (as the do every day at the beginning of lessons) and were given their instructions for the day. They split into 2 groups and practiced "saving" the coaches.
The first exercise was saving someone who was near the pool's edge. When it was Caleb's turn, held out the pool noodle to a "drowning" coach, then pulled him in to the edge of the pool.
The second exercise was saving someone who was further out in the water. Caleb tossed out an empty milk jug, holding on to the rope attached to the handle and stepping on the end. After the coach grabbed on to the flotation device, Caleb pulled him in to safety.
Next all the kids put on life vests and sat near the deep end of the pool for more safety instruction. The coaches explained the importance of being fully strapped in to the vest. To show them what would happen if not strapped in correctly, one of the coaches jumped in with his life vest loosely fastened. He slipped right out of it when he hit the water. Then another coach demonstrated how to correctly wear the life vest. She jumped in to show the kids how it would keep her afloat.
Finally it was time for the kids to jump in. The were instructed to jump in the water, then swim to the ladder. Several of the younger kids were too scared to jump in and had to be lowered in. When it was Caleb's turn to go in, he had a look of terror on his face. One of the coaches assured him he would be fine, then lowered him into the water. When he came up, he was trying to catch his breath and wipe his face off. He wasn't sure how to swim to the ladder, so one of the coaches in the water pulled him across. After that, he was free to get his towel and wait until all the others had finished.
When he came out after the day's lesson, I asked him how it was. "I was scared," he told me. I said that I had watched him and that he had done really well.
Monday he'll be back at Station 2, getting used to front floating and back floating. I'm guessing now that he'll be to Station 3 by Wednesday. Thursday will be his last day.
I've been really impressed by this particular Garland pool's swim program and by the swim program coordinator. On the first day, when she addressed the parents, she went over the rules and explained why they were that way. She explained what would happen in different situations, from taking children to use the bathroom to discipline for breaking rules to what would happen in case of various emergencies. She's been very present during the lessons, walking around the pool and spending time at each coach's location, watching the progress and offering encouragement or advice. She's made sure the lessons ran the full time they were supposed to, that we weren't given less than what we paid for. She makes sure each child's parent or guardian is present before letting the child out of the swimming area, and if there was a problem during the lesson, she talks to that child's parent or guardian herself. She also has each coach keep careful records of each child's progress.
I've already decided that Caleb will go back there for lessons in the spring. I feel confident that he will be both taught well and taken care of. And I know that he'll be able to pick up where he left off.