16 Oct #25 “Two Life Jacket Luke” (5 years old)/
What a serendipitous week! I stumbled upon a little dive shop with a big secret- a warm, indoor pool! Michael and Kassandra Timm, an amazing couple that has been in the industry for over 30 years, took over ownership of Dive California in 2011 and have been putting the groundwork in place to start an awesome swim school. Opening Day is right around the corner- Sunday, November 3! I’ll post more info as they get ready to launch…
My dear, sweet 25th project participant came to Dive California for his lesson. Luke is five years old and wears TWO, yes TWO, lifejackets when he swims. Like one isn’t bad enough. Now, I want to make it clear that I don’t hate lifejackets. They are extremely important in and around the water. But they are NOT a replacement for proper supervision and they are NOT the answer to a non-swimmer being comfortable in the pool. Look at the statistics in the graphic below. Click here for information regarding laws about life jackets from the California Division of Boating and Waterways.
When I spoke to his great-grandmother about my project, she was SO excited. Luke, on the other hand, was not. She e-mailed me, “He’s crying already just thinking about it.” I couldn’t blame him. He was terrified. Here’s the challenge with a swimmer that has been in ‘floaties’… He is used to swimming with his head OUT of the water and his legs bicycling below him. He has a false sense of security, so is comfortable and confident. He can jump in, cruise around in the deep end and go wherever he wants because he knows (thinks) he’s safe. Well, what happens when he forgets that he’s not wearing a life jacket and jumps in? I’ve seen it- it’s not pretty- straight to the bottom.
Look at this picture I found online. I can’t get over how uncomfortable it looks. And this life jacket inflates- what happens if the air comes out?! I’m not sure exactly how Luke got to the point of wearing TWO lifejackets while swimming in the pool, but that’s not important. What’s important is getting him to swim WITHOUT any flotation devices. That said, I couldn’t expect him to just swim across the pool to me; I had to break the lesson down into small steps.
First, I held him with a loose grip. Then, I taught him how to blow bubbles on the steps where he could stand. Once he figured out how fun it was to go under water (which he can’t do in the body position the life jacket gives him), he was an eager participant. Phew! From there, Luke worked with various tools (fins, floating kick sticks, kickboards, etc.) to get his legs kicking behind him. It was a challenge.
Luke had a wonderful time exploring the underwater world with bright, colorful plastic sea stars to dive for. I used goggles so he could see how wonderful and clear everything was. We held hands and blew bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles. And once he realized that if he blows bubbles, he won’t drink water, he really enjoyed it. Look- no fishies!
After an hour, I can confidently say that Luke has a better relationship with the water. We’re not done by any means, but it’s a great start. When he left, sporting his shark towel that I covet, he said he wanted to come back and swim a lot! Success! I LOVE his video: