It was with great excitement that Penny produced a yellow notice from her school bag last week: Mum! We’re starting swimming!
As a veteran of the Prep swimming program (this will be my fourth year) and informed by many years of working as a swimming instructor, I greeted this news with a mixture of happiness and dread; happiness because I’m glad Penny will be going along to swimming full of enthusiasm but dread because the effort of getting 20 five-year-olds in and out of the pool in an hour is enormous.
For the first-timers, here’s a few simple guidelines to make the Prep swimming experience a little easier to manage:
1. Make sure your kid can put on undies standing up. What?! Many years ago after a swimming lesson, a parent asked me what they should do to prepare their five-year-old for school swimming lessons. This child happened to be an exceptionally good swimmer but that aside, my answer was simple: Make sure he can put his undies on standing up. Most little kids sit down on the ground to put undies on. Next time you’re at public swimming pool, take a look at the floor (hint: it’s usually wet and not all that clean). Now think about kids sitting on that floor, struggling to roll undies up damp legs. Got it?
2. Name everything. Seriously, put name tags on name tags. At the end of every session there is invariably a pair of undies or one sock left; how does this happen? Who’s not wearing undies or only one sock? I learnt the hard way; one year my son went to swimming in a brand-new unnamed navy long-sleeved polo-top and came home in pale blue short-sleeved top that had seen better days…
3. The bit on the notice where the teachers ask for parent helpers? Sign up. Basically the ratio needs to be approximately ten thousand adults to one child to make this happen.
4. Despite what your child may tell you, no kid has ever been allowed to buy anything from the vending machines at Kew Rec. Urban myth. Don’t be fooled.
5. On the upside of all this effort is extreme exhaustion, the kids, that is. The walk to and from and the pool combined with their swimming lesson is very, very tiring. Lock in early nights on Tuesdays and Fridays.