Swimming is one of those life skills I personally think are so important. Not just for the exercise, but for water safety. I learned from a young age as my Mum was a swimming teacher / Head of PE and I have always wanted the same for the girls.
When Amelie was teeny tiny we started swimming lessons, but I found them a little scary if I’m honest. There was a lot of focus on getting the babies to go underwater and I just found it terrifying. When we moved areas when Amelie was 6 months I just wasn’t keen on these lessons anymore and stopped them. Fast forward a second child and having two at home and swimming lessons just weren’t easy to fit in.
The girls swam on holiday and occasionally and that was it and as such both weren’t very confident in the water. I have felt huge guilt recently about that so when Puddle Ducks South West London got in contact with me to try their new classes at Whiteley village I was thrilled for the girls! Their mission is to ‘teach every child to love swimming and to respect the water’ something I thoroughly agree with. Cathy and Pete own the South West London franchise and say “We began baby swimming with our first two children when they were born in 2011 and 2015, and have watched in wonder as our precious little boys develop in confidence with every lesson. They have learnt invaluable water safety skills, and we always have a lovely experience sharing special moments in the water together” I’ve met both Cathy and Pete and they are so passionate about the lessons and are really brilliant in recommending the right classes for little ones.
We started our Puddle Ducks journey in October and chose the Little Dippers class for Amelie and the Kickers class for Evie. Amelie at 4 could have started in an older class but she would have been in the water without me so we decided it would be better for her confidence to start in the Little Dippers class (3 months – 4 years) and see how she progressed.
On our first lesson at Whiteley village, we pleased to see a small, well-kept pool. The pool itself is smaller than you may be used to but I love this, it’s quiet, feels very calm and both girls seemed right at home at their first lesson. It’s also lovely and warm (so warm when we went to take pictures our camera steamed up)!!
One of the reasons I think both girls developed a bit of a phobia of the water was swimming in a local pool that was freezing. They both seemed blue after only a few minutes and desperately wanted to get out and since then we have really had to try and get them confident again.
I tried doing both lessons on one day but it didn’t work out for us, Amelie sat beautifully but Evie at two just wanted to be in the water at the same time, so I made some childcare changes and they now have lessons on different days. Amelie watches Evie but Amelie and I do the lessons alone.
In the classes
Because of the different swimming days, the girls have different teachers and they are both SO LOVELY! Both of them welcome all the children to the class and the lessons always start with the Mums/Dads getting in the pool whilst the little ones wait until they are safely told to get in. Then it’s into a welcome song which both girls love.
After the welcome song the classes start and the activities/lesson vary due to the age of the children. In Amelie’s class there is a lot of blowing bubbles on both the surface of the water and with their heads under the water – really to get their confidence in the water up. They also do lots of swimming with woggles, practicing pushing off from the side without assistance, laying back in the water and swimming with us and at the end an opportunity for play.
In Evie’s class there is lots of bubble blowing, swimming with me so she can learn to kick her legs, throwing ducks and then swimming to reach and get them, jumping and bobbing the water to songs, water play and her favourite – jumping in (but making sure she is listening to instructions and not just jumping in)! Evie also quite enjoys getting a bowl, filling it with water and tipping it over my head (for obvious reasons) 🙂
The girl’s progress
I’ve found Evie’s journey a little different to Amelie’s. Evie is a daring two-year-old who wants to do everything herself so the first few lessons were spent trying to teach her that if I let go (which she always wants me to do) she’ll frankly, sink. Maggie has been amazing, trying techniques to get Evie to listen and different activities. She is so patient with us both and by the end of the term got Evie doing things she would have never have done with us. I am really thrilled with how much she has improved in a few short weeks.
All the lessons are tailored towards the children so if Evie wasn’t cooperating she’ll mix things up to get her involved. I really think this approach has made Evie more respectful of the water and has also taught her some new skills that she would have never have done with me! By making the classes slightly different and giving her the parts of the activity she did want to do she’s learnt so much!
Amelie has grown in confidence massively over the course of the term. She smiles throughout, is dipping her head in the water which she would never do, she’s lying back in the water (again something she’d never do) and is absolutely thrilled with herself when she’s pushing off the edge and then swimming on her own (aided by woggles).
I am so impressed with the team and the way they have got both of the girl’s confidence up in the water and importantly starting to teach them the foundations of swimming and water safety.
*Amelie and Evie swims with Puddle Ducks free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*