April 27, 2009

Swim Class 101

Three months ago, I FINALLY enrolled my kids in swim class. I was embarrassed seeing my 8 year old wearing her “fat suit” in the swimming pool (you know, those floatation swim suits) while 2 year olds—without floatation or parental assistance—were swimming all around her like exceptionally skilled sea otters.

My kids have now been in swim class for a few months and my oldest has graduated to Swim 3. Everything she is learning has been pretty basic. The “floating on the back” skill, the “diving for the rings” skill, and eventually, learning the correct method of stroking your arms instead of doggy paddling.

Yesterday, however, I was a little surprised when her instructor said, “Okay class, we’re going to learn the Dolphin Kick.”

I knew they taught those skills to high school or professional swim teams—but to beginning students? I have to confess, right here, right now, and on a public blog—there is nothing more hysterically funny than watching a group of seven 8 year olds trying to “Dolphin Kick.”

You know the move, right? It’s where you kick off from the pool walls and move your body up and down—like you’re acting out body charades of what a wave would look like. If you’ve watched the swim competition in the Summer Olympics, you’ve seen Michael Phelps and other swimmers do it.

My daughter and her class were instructed to keep their arms straight out in front, hands together and legs straight behind them. The instructor then encouraged, “Now swim!”
They looked like tied up mummies wearing swim goggles—having a group seizure. The wall was lined with parents smiling and encouraging their kids. I, on the other hand, could barely lift my thumb, struggling to give her the “thumbs up” as she searched for me along the wall, looking for my approval.
I could not find the control to stop laughing, but I tried to keep quiet, trying not to draw attention to myself, which forced me to muffle my laughter—trying to squelch the urge to laugh out loud. But my laughter is connected to my tear ducts, so when I tried to smother the peals of laughter begging to break free, my eyes were leaking with an influx of tears that fell down my face. With my mascara running, anyone who saw me probably had mixed signals wondering why I was bawling at a kids swim class.

My daughter waved back and received a huge grin—which encouraged her to continue. Only this time, she performed with more zeal and turned back to practice her “dolphin kick”—and my obnoxious laughing fit ensued.

She looked like a worm swimming through Jello. What would make this swim class even more entertaining is if the kids would start making high pitched dolphin calls. I think they would all pass with flying colors!
Her swim class ‘pass-off sheet’ probably looks something like this: Swim like a dolphin, hold your breath like a puffer fish and float, bark like a dog, and fetch the swim rings at the bottom of the pool. Check, check, checkand check!!

Honestly, how many parents could get in a pool and do the dolphin kick? Imagine how well we’d perform having never tried it before. I know that as for myself, I would probably look like a catastrophic disaster.
Now imagine 7 kids trying that technique for the first time, knowing they had just acquired the basic skills.
The mental picture just doesn’t do justice to seeing it in person. All the kids are tossing, turning, and rolling in the water as if the instructor had asked them instead to pretend they were a drowning dolphin.

The kids are colliding into each other under the water like a chaotic pack of disoriented whales migrating to the Atlantic.
It’s the most unorganized, hysterical thing I have ever witnessed.

Some kids are kicking-off from the bottom of the pool and breaking through the water like killer whales jumping through rings at Sea World. I swear I can hear the crowd clapping and cheering when they break through the water—

When their little bodies sail through the air in slow motion—I just want to reach for a bucket of fish and toss one into their mouth.
My daughter doesn’t look like she’s learning anything except how to swim like a lunatic, infused with a rocket dose of Ginseng as she moves her body through the water like an electric eel going into shock--but don’t get me wrong--this was worth paying money for.

I don’t think I have laughed that hard in a long time.

As the minutes passed, I became embarrassed by the attention I was gathering so I desperately fought to keep a “low profile.” I tucked my head down and stared at my lap, letting my hair cover my face—but it was not good enough. I could still hear the cacophony of splashing kids swimming their little hearts out, and my shoulders began to shake, giving me away.

Composing myself after a stern self-lecture, I sat up straight, face expressionless and void of emotion as I vowed to behave while I finished watching her class practice their ‘swimming’.
My resolve melted like butter being nuked on high power in the microwave. I had to bite my quivering bottom lip to hold it steady, so I bit harder, my eyes tearing up with unstoppable tears. Watching my daughter’s swim class “migrate” to the far side of the pool, I had this uncanny urge to jump into the water to “pet the dolphins.”
Actually, what I really wanted to do was tie a rope around them and jump on their backs like a dolphin trainer at Sea World.

As I watched my daughter swimming determinedly—it would have made any dolphin proud—I wondered if I should invest in sonar equipment. I make a mental note to search eBay.

Hmmmm…. Suddenly, I’m struck with the “overachiever mom” syndrome as I think about possibly having her watch Finding Nemo—the part where Dori does her whale calling.
I wonder if the teacher would give my kid extra credit…?

If these kids were competing on a professional swim team, I can see why they would need to learn the dolphin kick technique. But this is supposed to be basic water skills and learning how to swim—not everyone is going to join a swim team. So how would one apply the dolphin kick after basic swim class?

So, hypothetically, you see your kid in trouble in the water…….

“Hold on kiddo!” you screech, ripping off your shoes and diving into the pool. Suddenly you remember your childhood training from swim class and you transform into “dolphin mode.” You move your body up and down, using the dolphin technique, slicing through the water like a speedy penguin making a mad escape from a predator. All the while, you click your tongue just like the dolphins do—because applying the dolphin move is so much faster than using your arms to propel you through the water the “regular” way.

Oh, well. At least the lesson was highly entertaining.

I guess I should only be concerned if the teacher doesn’t pass her because she’s developed more of a “porpoise kick” than a dolphin kick….

*Thanks Jordan for the photoshop work :)


AnnieAd said...

You are amazing! Look at you in the water with those dolphins, and your hair didn't even get wet. Now that's TALENT! Cute pictures, funny blog.

{jordan} said...

*snicker* I didn't even think about the hair.... that's funny...