Small Talk

Swimming lessons

July 23rd, 2010

Three has been such a liberating age for this mommy. Three seems to be the minimum age at which a lot of facilities start offering children's lessons.

I signed Olivia up for the free Red Cross swimming lessons in June. It's the Keiki Learn to Swim program, for ages 3-13, offered on Saturday mornings from 8:45- 9:45 a.m.

Popo and Olivia

Popo and Olivia

I remember my mom signed me up for that when I was a child. Then, as now, it was at Ala Moana Beach Park. However, back then there were only a dozen people.

On this day, when we walked up, there were about 100 people - out of the water! And maybe 50 or 70 more people in the water? It looks like how all the people mill around the shore before the gun sounds for the triathlon race.

In the water, there was a main instructor, assisted by a bunch of junior helpers (that seemed like college students). Parent-child pairs were assembled in circles around the instructor.

The main instructor would issue a command, and the parents would all do it with their children. The assistants would come around and make sure we were doing it properly.

The first class consisted of learning to kick, put their face in the water, blow bubbles, and move their arms. We also practiced putting some elements of that together. The parent would hold the child and we'd all walk our children around in a circle.

The other kids seemed to be having a nice time, but Olivia did not like it. She did not like the cold water, because it hadn't yet warmed up in the sun. She didn't like the salt. And she doesn't ever like when strangers talk to her, so she refused to do what the teachers said.

She kept asking to go, so after 45 minutes, I gave in and left a little early. I remember not liking the same things about the class when I was a kid, so for those reasons, I decided not to come back for the other three Saturdays.

Plus, there were a handful of e mail updates from the organizers about this or that parade or festival that was going to impact parking and traffic.

I hope I don't give the wrong impression. The Red Cross people are super nice, very helpful, and best of all, it's free. I just think maybe Olivia needs to be a few years older to like it.

Learning to swim is important and, especially if this is your only chance to have lessons, you should sign up!


I signed her up for swimming lessons at a pool. My cousin went through the city's Parks and Rec program, so hers was free, but I think if you don't sign up the first day, you miss out because the spaces fill up fast. So I decided to just pay for lessons at the Y.


You join the Y, then members get a discount on classes, so it works out to about ten bucks a class. Pretty standard for kid's lessons.

I also took lessons at Nu'uanu YMCA when I was a kid, and I loved it. I loved the pool. I still love the pool. I joined a swim team when I was in sixth grade. I stayed with it through high school. It's a good form of exercise, but I just love the feeling of being in the water.

The Y structures it differently from the Red Cross. It's a half hour, every weekday, for two weeks. The parent has to stick around the pool area while the kid swims, but unlike the Red Cross, they don't want the parents to assist.

This was great. For me, at least. I got to swim laps for a half hour each day while she took lessons. I also got to know all the retirees hanging out on noodles and chatting at the deep end, namely Roy, Roy, and Ron.

Olivia, on the other hand. Hmm... She screamed her head off for the first four days of class! Every single day, the entire class (or most of it), screaming and crying for mommy. Remember how I said she doesn't like strangers?

When I was swimming laps, I'd hear alternately the silence of the water, and then when I turned my head to the side to breathe, I'd hear her screaming. It was: silence - WAAAH! - silence - WAAAAAH! - silence - MOOOMMMMMY!!!!!

When I finished my laps, I'd go talk to the retirees. She would look for me across the pool and yell for me to come get her. Came to a point where I was hiding behind Roy's head so she wouldn't see me.

She didn't want to do what the teacher requested, she didn't want the teacher to touch her. She screamed so loud I could hear her in the locker room. Only a little embarrassing... yeah, that's my kid making all the noise.

Finally, on the fifth day, she whimpered only a little and participated in class. Fantastic. For the rest of her time there, she did well and ended up really liking Miss Molly.

Couple moms and I compared notes. We all ended up having the same opinions. We like that it's a little bit, every day. It reinforces the lesson much quicker than having one long lesson, once a week.

We didn't love that it was scheduled right in the middle of the day. Olivia's lesson was at 1:20 p.m., but another mom had her two kids back to back, at the 2 p.m. and the 2:30 p.m. We agreed that it means you have to schedule your entire day around the lessons.

I blacked out my calendar for the entire two weeks for that reason. That's also why I didn't sign Olivia up for the next series of lessons. I need a little break.

I know it's probably really hard to understand why anyone would turn down what sounds like a nice day at the pool, but I have other things that I need to or want to do (some of them with Olivia). I would definitely sign her up for swimming at the Y again, though.

YMCA lessons Pike

She passed the class, and got a little badge, though she was far more excited about the lollipops Miss Molly gave out. I'm very proud to say she can actually swim five feet! I'm even more excited to note that swimming makes for a looong nap.


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