How to motivate beginner swimmers

by CountryFriedMama on June 29, 2011

Country-Fried Daddy tells an inspirational story about learning how to swim.

He reminded me recently, as I lamented the apparent futility of Miss D.’s swimming lessons, that he didn’t learn how to swim until he was 12.

How is that possible? I asked him. You were an Eagle Scout. The Boy Scouts let you get away without learning how to swim?

And then he told me. At some point, an older cousin — frustrated by CFD’s inability to swim — threw him into a hotel pool. Perhaps this is the “no fu@!ing around” program that has been recommended to me several times for Miss D. In any case, it didn’t work for her Daddy. He didn’t drown, but he didn’t quite swim, either, and he hated the water more when he finally pulled himself out of that pool. (I think he is still mad at this particular cousin, who is otherwise a good guy.) And so, by the time CFD got to Boy Scout summer camp at age 12ish, he still couldn’t swim.

It was during that time that an assistant scout master finally broke through CFD’s swimming challenges.

DON’T BE A PUSSY! this wise sage told CFD. And — ta-dah! CFD immediately began to swim.

The Boy Scouts really do have a fabulous program.

I have no plans to teach Miss D. this phrase, nor explain to her why she should be insulted by it. I don’t think it would inspire her in the way it did the 12-year-old boy who later turned into her Daddy.

Anyway, Miss D.’s teacher has found another way to turn my reluctant child into a swimmer. She has moved Miss D. down to a younger swim class, where she is now — by far — the best student. While another little girl cries on the side of the pool each day and a third sucks in more water than air, Miss D. willingly goes into the water, floats on her back, and smiles big.

She still can’t swim, but she feels like the other kids can’t swim MORE, and that seems to be the exact motivation she needed.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Billy June 29, 2011 at 8:49 pm

this post made my night

I didn’t learn to swim until later on either (I don’t remember how old, but I was older than normal) . Fortunately or unfortunately, I have no great or funny tales as to how. Except to say that CFD took sadistic advantage of my inability whenever we went swimming. Maybe it runs in the family.


bubbe July 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Show us the pic-


Roz July 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm

In the old days, one couldn’t graduate from college without passing a swimming test. So I – after years of swimming in summer camp, took a swimming class as my Phys Ed requirement. I was in a class with women who thought I was an Olympian! Most of my classmates were seniors who NEEDED this to graduate, and had trouble wading. They really thought that I could swim. I passed my swimming requirement my freshman year with no problem, since I was the best swimmer in the class. By the time I graduated, the requirement had been dropped.


Stacia July 5, 2011 at 9:32 am

Lollipop hated swim class. Hated. It. She whined like no kid has ever whined before. (Okay, that’s not true, but you get it.) So we finished the class and that was that. I figure, like potty training, she’ll want to learn when she’s ready. Until then, I’m sewing a GPS into her swimsuit so I know where she is at all times when we’re near water.


Twitter: PhotogCynthia
July 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Brilliant. And she can be the helper to the littler kids.


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