Sunday, December 26, 2010
Madrid: Ricky Learns to Swim at Club Natacion Jimenez
One of the things I thought Ricky should learn to do at about this point in his life was swimming. It seemed like a healthy sort of activity, useful for his own safety and likely a source of fun in the future. There were classes offered by Ricky's school, but we also had, right across the street from our apartment, a large private swimming club.
We asked Ricky if he wanted to take lessons, and he said said he did. We promoted the idea, talking about the fun and the benefits, and we bought him the equipment and made presents of it. The only thing left was to take the lessons.
The swimming club near us, Club Natacion Jimenez, has a specific method they use in teaching children to swim, and they take children on as young as 18 months. The initial dozen lessons are conducted with the child and one an instructor, one on one. And they must be conducted on consecutive days. 12 lessons, 12 straight weekdays.
This past June we gathered Ricky's swimming equipment: his trunks, his cap, and his goggles, and brought him to the pool. We turned him over to David, the young instructor, and sat down at a table outside the pool, where we could watch through the glass wall. David led Ricky to the edge of the pool, and then got in. Ricky began to talk about how he was not quite ready to get into the pool yet. David picked up Ricky and brought him into the pool. Ricky tried to hold on to David's neck. The two of them went back and forth in the pool a couple times, and then David took Ricky's hands off his neck and held him on his back. And they started going back and forth. At this point, Ricky began to cry. Then we noticed that all the children were going through their lessons in tears. Someone sitting next to us said that the children all cried during their first week of lessons.
Ricky kept going on with the lessons, and kind of took to them. He liked David, and David always addressed Ricky as "campeon," sort of the equivalent of "Hiya, Champ!" By the end of the 12 lessons, only two weeks later, I watched in shock as David picked up Ricky and threw him into the pool. Ricky went into the water, went down, and came right back up, without any problems at all. It was impressive.
Ricky was impressed himself, and very pleased when he was given a little medal and a t-shirt. Then the swimming club closed for the summer, and we told Ricky that in the fall, he could go back, and keep learning to swim, and this time he would take group lessons, and there would be lots of other kids to learn with.
Ricky spent the whole summer declaring that he did not need more lessons, that he knew how to swim, and, most of all, that he did not want to take group lessons. I have no idea where this forceful aversion to group lessons came from, but we never did go back for more lessons. Hopefully, he'll pick up some kind of swimming skill beyond not sinking, but I don't know when that will be.
Club Natacion Jimenez, Avenida Madroños, 23, 28043 Madrid. 91 300 0258, www.cnjimenez.com/