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Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.

From The New York Times:

Her Parents Thought Swimming Lessons Were a Good Idea

Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.…

Former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka

Good video about former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka



Every week I see the same little boy, around 4, wailing through his swim lesson.  Always the same routine - he enters the pool area and starts crying.  He cries for 30 minutes straight, quite pathetically, and stops as soon as the towel is wrapped around him and he’s walking calmly into the locker room.  


Why?  And if this sounds like your little cherub what should you do about it? 


It’s sometimes challenging to know what is going on in their minds.  Before my kids started preschool I read that the number one fear of school was the bathroom.  Where was the bathroom?  Did they have to ask first?  What if they needed  help?  Could they use the bathroom at school?  I was stunned - I never would have thought to address that.  It was a good reminder that kid’s brains function differently than an adult’s. 


Add in the fact that, though we resist mightily, we see our kids as a reflection of ourselves.  It’s hard not to feel at least a twinge in your gut when you have the only child who won’t go down the slide, or lies by the goal on the soccer field oblivious to the hard-fought game around him, or picks his nose, or....or.....or....


So, if you have a ‘water crier’ or one who refuses to put his head under or absolutely will not do the hokey-pokey in parent-and-me swim class, try looking at the situation from their perspective.  Do they feel they have your positive, and engaged, attention or are you escaping behind your newspaper or e-mail?  Do they like their instructor?  Did you introduce the instructor and chat for a few minutes about your child and your expectations or just send them off together?  Has your child has a bad experience in the water or in some other class?  Are there other big changes going on in their lives?


If all else fails, try simply asking why he/she cries.  The answer may surprise you, and it may be something small that can be easily fixed (but I wanted an Ariel bathing suit!)  Of course your child may have a fear that can’t be easily addressed - which means maybe it’s time to suspend the experience while you work in a few fun days in the water.  Just the two of you, with no pressure and nothing ‘scary’.  


Stick with it please - swimming is a valuable life-skill and a darned good time, once they’re ready.  

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Tags: Jabari, Water, advice, children's, fear, fears, infant, learn, lessons, of, More…parenting, safety, swim, swimming, the, tips, to, water


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Comment by Rebecca Wear Robinson on April 25, 2011 at 7:29pm
Smart Mom!!!!  Goggles are the answer to a lot of problems - and I am so loving the range of colors, my daughter absolutely could not swim with any color but pink, but give her pink goggles and she's in!
Comment by Angela Gray on April 25, 2011 at 7:18pm
I agree. My oldest was scared of the water, and went two sessions of lessons without putting her head under. I asked her what the problem was, and she didn't want water in her ears or eyes. A set of ear plugs and a pair of goggles was our solution. We stuck with it, and now, at 19, she is a lifeguard and swim instructor. It is worth it!

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