I associate summer with water.
My childhood summer days were spent mostly in the pool, splashing around with friends, jumping repeatedly from the diving board, or doing laps during swim team practice.
Later, as an adult, my vision of summertime has continued to revolve around water, changing form depending upon where I was living at the time. As an older teenager in Sacramento, days off were frequently spent rafting down the American River. While living on the California Central Coast, in San Luis Obispo, most afternoons, when not working my shift as a lifeguard at the local tennis club, were spent at one of the local beaches. Summer weekends during the years I worked in Germany may have involved a swim in a country pond or, more commonly, late-evening walks along the Rhine. Later, in Monterey, year-round, I made a point of visiting the ocean daily, either before or after work, and I swam laps in the community indoor pool several times per week.
Now I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I have a child. While I try to get to the beach as often as possible, the majority of our water time is spent at the swimming pool in our housing complex. We make a point of going daily, unless it’s just too foggy and cold. My son loves the water. Perhaps it’s in his genes, but I think it’s the regular exposure. He’d stay in the water all day if he could!
Most communities have a swimming pool, pond, or beach of some sort. Learning to swim is a joy, if not simply a safety skill, that all children should have access to. But it takes lots of exposure and practice. I worked as a swim instructor for four summers, so I understand this well. Swimming can be a frightening thing to a child. This fear can be overcome by teaching competence and allowing your child to progress at their own speed. For my son, his barrier was getting water in his eyes. He hated it! Overcome this by wearing goggles. Either teach your child to swim yourself or enroll them in classes, but please give this life-long gift to your child.
A few photos of my son, discovering the fun of diving boards, during a visit with my parents this weekend.
For information about learning to swim through the American Red Cross… visit the Red Cross website.