Seeing her boy swim 25 metres for the first time is a proud moment Deb will always remember, even more so because of the choppy waters they’d had to get through first.
Six-year-old Evan was just a few years old when she enrolled him in swimming lessons at the Y. The ocean was just a short distance from home and Deb believes anyone who lives in Australia should know how to swim.
“We live about 500m from the beach so Evan had to learn to swim,” said Deb. “I used to go to the Y for gym classes and the fact that their pool is indoors and heated appealed to me.”
Evan started with group lessons at Great Lakes Aquatic and Leisure Centre, initially with Deb also in the pool. He then progressed to the bigger pool and lessons without Mum in the water with him. After returning from a break due to a family holiday, he lost some confidence and became less interested in improving his swimming. So Deb approached Emma about individual swimming lessons.
“This way, Evan could benefit from one-on-one coaching on the specific areas he needed work on, which would in turn support his confidence and accelerate his progress.”
“Emma was amazing from the start – she is extremely patient with him and sees when he needs to be supported and encouraged. She is always positive and complementary. She also does silly things like putting the kickboard on her head, which is funny to a five-year-old.”
At the end of his lessons, Evan likes to join the other kids in the smaller pool which is even warmer. Deb says he likes to throw toys in, then dive down and get them.
“He plays in the water in his own time and place with his mates. You can’t get that at other centres – that play option where he can practice going underwater has contributed to his confidence. It’s a great play setting,” she said.
Evan loves his private lessons at the Y most but still attends group classes where he meets up with friends from soccer and school. Evan has learned to trust the water more and there are other aspects of the Centre that Deb really likes.
“It’s great that his grandparents are allowed to come to watch and Evan likes that,” Deb said.
“They also have a play area that isn’t water related. Evan likes the climbing set and slippery dips and because it’s indoors, it’s great during wet weather. Some weeks if he has had a good lesson, we might buy something from the shop as a treat.
“The Y also runs intensive learn to swim weeks in winter and Evan won a prize pack: a towel, googles and a swim cap in a drawstring bag, a slinky and pen and paper. The online booking system is handy too.”
Today, Evan can’t wait to get to lessons and he is thriving. He is motivated by his progress and is a few levels ahead of other kids his age.
Deb has videoed his lessons from the start and Evan likes to watch them and replay highlights to family, including the first time he swam 25 metres.
“He’d been trying each week for a few weeks and finally got it,” Deb said. “That was a bit exciting. Watching the video is motivating for him and he likes to show it to his grandparents so they can see his progress.”
“Evan’s six now and swimming two 25 metre laps in freestyle and learning backstroke and other drills in his lessons. Last year, Evan did a triathlon but couldn’t do the swim. This year, he’s in training for his next triathlon which he’ll be able to swim.”
Deb is grateful to the swimming teachers at the Y who she describes as ‘the amazing women who have given Evan his confidence back in the pool.’
“In the last six months, he has gone from a child who hated swimming lessons and was behind the level of his same-aged peers, to a boy who looks forward to his lesson – especially his private lesson with Emma – and is swimming at a level above his age expectation,” Deb said.
“I just want to see him be a confident swimmer, to enjoy swimming and be able to apply the skills he’s learned in the pool to the ocean. I want him to have fun, and while I hope he never needs to, I feel more confident he could get himself out of trouble in the water if he needed to.”