Sunday, August 7, 2011

Swimming Lessons 2011- A Huge Success!

While Gesserine has always loved to get in the pool and take baths, she has not been a fan of getting splashed or even letting her face get wet. Showers were not something she was willing to do and getting her to lay her head back in the tub so you could wash her hair was a chore. That was, until now.

We had so many other issues to deal with, and since we had very little opportunity to get in the water, swimming lessons were a low priority for us for many years. But as Gess got older I felt water safety was very important. Two years ago we attempted swimming lessons at a local pool. It did not go very well. Gess was 7 and not very familiar with public pools. Generally the only time we had been swimming was when we were staying at a hotel with a pool.

There were several people in Gesserine's class and it was one of about five classes taking place at the same time. There was just too much to distract Gess. The staff was kind enough to place an assistant specifically assigned to Gess. That was great, but it pretty much turned in to a babysitting job. The poor girl just followed Gess where ever she went (she never stayed with her group for very long) and Gess learned absolutely nothing about swimming. I did not complain though, for what kind of training do you want for $12.50 a week?

So last year I was determined to find something better, preferably private lessons where Gess would not be distracted with other stuff going on in the pool. Thankfully my son began dating a girl who had been on a swim team, whose mother had taught special-needs kids to swim in the past and who had access to a private pool. I talked to her about it and she was willing to do it!

Chelsie Ports began teaching Gesserine last summer when she was 8. Gess was as a total beginner, not really knowing anything about how to swim, or even stay afloat. We decided to go with shorter 30 minute lessons for two weeks rather than hour long lessons for one. She did pretty good that first week, but by the second she was starting to shut down. Chelsie did great and made some progress getting Gess comfortable in the water. This demonstrated itself well in the fact that Gess would finally (after 8 years) lay her head back in the tub without propping herself up on her elbows! She was still shy of showers and splashing, even though we took her to our new pool with a cool splash section in it. Still, for Gess it was great. I doubted she would ever be much of a swimmer, but I do want her to know how to be safe around water. So when the summer came this year, I was eager to begin again.

My biggest goal was for Gess to let her face get wet. I mean, seriously, she would not even put her face in the water, let alone put her whole head under it. I did not know what to expect, but it really was not much. Needless to say, when I found out that Gess went totally under water on her very first lesson, I was shocked! I do not know how Chelsie did it, but she got Gesserine to go under! By the end of the week, Gess would sit on the bottom of the 3 foot section and dive down for rings!

We went to the pool about ten times this year and Gess began to really feel at home there. She goes under water all of her own accord now. She loves going under and grabbing your knee, or your hand. She will dive for rings, etc. She actually won't swim yet, not under the water or on top, but she will go under and come back up as long as she knows she can put her feet down when she is done. I think she COULD swim if she tried, but she still thinks she can't. Still, she sure has made tremendous leaps and bounds from last year! Oh and she showers now and will let the big bucket dump on her head in the splash park at the pool! It is truly amazing what a difference a year can make! Thanks Chelsie for all your hard work!

Below are some pictures we took this weekend at a party. Here are Chelsie and Gess enjoying some fun after all that hard work!

Enjoying the water safe in Chelsie's arms.

Not sure where they headed but they are obviously on a mission!

Practicing with the noodle.

Look who is under the water! She went all the way down!

Coming back up for air! She always has to rub the water (and hair) out of her eyes.

I can't really swim but I want to go off the diving board!

There she goes!!!

She landed right on top of her swimming instructor! Kids (and adults) don't try this at home!! What brave girls they are!


dj said...

This is so encouraging! My daughter, 7, is about where Gess was @ the beginning of your tale! Thank you for hope for the future! Now, to find a private instructor with sp. needs experience-well, we've plenty of time before next summer. Way to go Gess!!!

Beverly said...

so so awesome. I am so happy for Gess. Noah used to do great in the water and then two years ago he got freaked out and set us back. this year he is loving the pool again but still will not put head under water. so proud of Gess


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