Monday, June 11, 2012

Those who should not teach

I'm sure you've heard the old adage that "those who can't do, teach."  Well I learned a long time ago that when it comes to me and swimming, the opposite holds true.  In my world, "those who can do might not be cut out for teaching."

I swam competitively for much of my young life.  When I reached my middle teen years, there was an expectation that I would either teach swimming lessons or coach a group of younger swimmers on my team.  Unlike my peers who thrived while teaching, I didn't have any desire to do it.  I didn't have a lot of patience with young kids.  And I couldn't explain how to swim... it was just something I knew how to do.

I finally gave in and agreed to help a good friend of mine coach a group of 8 year olds on our swim team.  I felt so much pressure to teach these kids something.  I thought if nothing else, I should be able to teach them how to dive.

It seemed simple to me... show them what to do a couple of times, and then BAM!  They would be master divers.  Only it didn't really work out that way.  For the next couple of minutes, I watched bellyflop after painful bellyflop.  Those kids looked up so expectantly and excitedly, they wanted encouragement.  And all I could think to do was show them again how I dove. 

There was one young girl who seemed really interested in diving, but just wouldn't leave her feet.  To my young illogical mind, the best thing to do appeared to be to get her off of her feet.  Somehow I convinced her to let me take her by her ankles and hold her headfirst over the water.  I had her put her arms above her head, and I dropped her in.

A perfect dive.  And clearly not a shining star on my path to good and mature judgment.

She scrambled out of the water, and told me very pointedly "NEVER DO THAT AGAIN."  And her point was taken.  I wasn't cut out for coaching, and I never attempted it again. 

When Nate and I had children, I knew that I would not be a good swimming instructor.  I knew from the moment that they were born that I would not be the one to show them how to doggy paddle or dead man's float or dive.  And you know what, I am fine with it.  It is probably in all of our best interests!

We joined a pool this year, and it was important to me that Luke start swimming lessons.  Though he goes with us to the pool and has a great time splashing around, I think there are some important skills to be learned in formal lessons. 

Additionally, I am always thinking about fun things that Luke can do to build some strength and control in his legs and feet.  He still wears orthotics and walks with a limp.  He is coming to an age where he is becoming aware that his friends do not do either.  He told me the other day that we need to "go out and buy [him] some fast shoes" so he can keep up on the playground.  I felt so bad.  I really want Luke to find confidence and to feel proud of himself.  From my perspective, being buoyant in the water kind of levels the playing field with some of his more swift and agile land-loving buddies. 

Sounds like a muscle-building, control-gaining, fun-having, confidence-building, friend-making, float away kind of good time, doesn't it?

Tonight was Luke's first lesson.  There are only 3 kids in his class with one instructor, so he got some good one on one time.  He was so excited to show off that he could already jump in to the water and push off of the bottom (ok so maybe I am alright to teach him a thing or two).

They worked on floating and kicking and even a little diving off the side.  Not my kind of diving though.  Safe, from your knees kind of diving.  The goal of the class is to teach water comfort more than anything else, and later on they will move into some basic doggy paddle and floating techniques.  Luke has never been comfortable laying on his back in the water (even in the bathtub), so I was happy to see that the instructor already started working on that with him.

Luke did really great!  I was so proud of him.  And truly happy to be sitting on the side and taking pictures.  And seeing him smile his proud "look at me!" smile. It made my heart feel so good.


mmmandy! said...

Oh man! I am the same way!! I couldn't teach my kids to swim at all!!! Had to get someone else to do it. Taylor still doesn't know how. :( Luke is awesome! Way to go!!

Schatzi04 said...

Hooray for you! And hooray for Luke! He does look proud. Love, Mom