We did survival swim with Kye when he was a little over 2 years old. You can read ALL the details of his experience as well as the IMPORTANCE of survival swim lessons in this post! I'm not going to repeat all the basic info in this post since I already wrote it all once ;)
I wasn't sure what my plan of action would be for Britt with swim. I didn't want to wait until next year to get her in lessons but I was pretty nervous about how she would do being that she was like a year and nine months younger than Kye was when he did it. I was also worried about the timing. With Kye we did them in April and were able to swim in our pool during the time he was taking lessons. We never had to take any time "off" between lessons and being able to swim in our pool. With having to pay for Britt's survival swim and Kye's stroke lessons I wanted to do the smartest thing possible with our budget and the cheapest time of the year for them to swim is in February so that's when we decided to have them do it! I figured our pool is usually warm enough in late March/early April so hopefully we'd be able to swim at home once she finished up with her lessons!
This will be an extremely long and detailed post with lots of pictures and videos. I did the same with Kye so I wanted to make sure to make things equal for Britt ;)
Britt's swim time was at 4:50 Mon-Thur for 10 min. Kye's was at 4:30 on Monday and Wednesdays for 30 min. So it was a tad tricky handling Britt during Kye's lesson. It ended up working out most days where Britt was able to swim earlier which did work out better for us. Day 1 though they were running a bit behind so Britt and I watched a lot of Kye's lesson and Britt waited eagerly for her turn.
When Kye did Survival Swim we LOVED Margie so when I found out we weren't having Margie with Britt I was a little nervous. Margie is hardcore and I really, really like that (b/c duh, I'm pretty hardcore myself haha). Leah appeared so sweet and calm and I was a little anxious to see how she would do with Britt and if she'd be "tough enough" to get the job done. She was AWESOME and I adore her! We now have two favorites at Tiny Bubbles ;)
Day 1 was on Feb 25th and Britt was eager to get in. She kept pointing at the pool and went right to Leah with no issues (which surprised me b/c Britt is often "slow to warm" with new people and situations). She fussed a bit during the lesson but not nearly as bad as I'd anticipated! Leah did ask us if she sleeps on her tummy (YES!) and said that we need to practice having her lay on her back on the floor as she kinda "fought" having to be on her back. She also said for us not to have her do any starfish practice in the tub because can cause ear infections and they tend to put their butt on the bottom of the tub which messes up the starfish too. It was a successful first day for sure!!!
Watching Brother swim, waiting for her turn and eating her post-nap snack!
"kick kick kick kick, kick those toes!"
Video of Day 1 (you can see how she resisted going on her back!)
On Day 2 Zach came to watch and I think the "newness" was gone and more fear had crept in a little for her. I did bring some fruit snacks and decided to give her one a day as a reward, since Kye always had gotten suckers. And I do NOT feel like she's old enough for suckers yet!
She surprised me and still went straight for Leah! She cried but did WAY better with her starfish! She struggled a LOT throughout all of the lessons with keeping her mouth open when going under the water. Which isn't a shocker. This child ALWAYS has her mouth opened!!! Leah did say she was holding her breath, even with her mouth open but that we needed to work on having her close her mouth and cheering for her when she obeys us and closed it :)
On Day 3 I decided to have Britt rock some pig tails for the first time ;)
She did an awesome job kicking her toes on her own! When Leah put her on her belly she kicked so great! She did swallow a LOT of water though and tee-teed through her diaper all over the floor when we got home. I was a little worried about her water intake but I knew just to monitor it and she'd be okay. We practiced a lot in the tub with her saying "mmmmm" and going under the water and she did great with it!
On day four (Feb 28th) Britt was MUCH calmer about everything. Leah said she was taking in a lot of water because she was holding her breath at first then would open her mouth while under the water. She assured me that it was SUPER common, very normal, and an "easy fix." She suggested to practice having Britt blow bubbles in the tub rather than doing "mmm" as it was good for her to learn to push that air out.
Britt did AWESOME reaching for the ledge when she "swam" for the first time! Leah said to start having her wear shoes during her lessons because her mind is so busy thinking about so much that she wasn't kicking as good as she needed to be and wearing the shoes would help remind her to kick due to the weight of the shoes.
She reached for me a lot during this lesson and kept calling me "dada dada" the whole time ;) Here's the video of Day 4
I love how she always would put her head down, ready to go in the water!
Leah would help her hold her mouth close to help train her to close it under water
Day 5 was on Kye's birthday and I found some shoes for her to wear. Honestly, this was difficult for me. I don't really buy my kids shoes at all until they are walking and Britt hasn't been walking very long so all her shoes are kinda "nice" and I didn't want them to be ruined in the pool! The shoes I brought ended up being too small! Oops! She did struggle with kicking well but was doing much better with holding her breath. She started to point to me while crying out the whole time.
Waiting for Kye to finish so we could go celebrate :)
On the night of Day 6 Britt go in the tub and right away started doing the "mmm" and blowing bubbles! She was so excited! So excited that she actually ended up falling down into the water in the bath tub three different times! I stayed calm each time and was impressed that she did hold her breath every time she went under!!! Here's a video of her from that night practicing in the tub with Kye :)
Video of Day 6, swimming to the steps!
On Day 7 I borrowed some shoes from another child who was swimming and they worked better than the ones I had! She kicked a little better...but she would only kick during starfish then not at all when she should be kicking! Leah put a little outfit on her to help hold her arms in and to help her kick better!
On Day 8 we got to swim and found out a child had pooped in the pool so it was canceled :( We did practice a lot in the bathtub! Here's a video of her practicing her kicking and here's another video of her blowing her bubbles!
Over that weekend Zach and Kye went to Goodwill for me and bought Britt some tennis shoes for $1 ;) They were Dora the Explorer ones but who cares. And let's also not think about where they had probably been...I mean surely the chlorine in the pool killed all the foot grime germs, right?
Britt did GREAT with her kicking when wearing the little outfit thing even though the time change made her pretty fussy for the lesson. She also was dealing with red, gunky eyes and I think it was allergies? No other symptoms, no fever or anything, so we didn't skip any swim lessons but I do think she was a bit uncomfortable.
On Day 10 she was SO CUTE while waiting for her turn. She would stand up waiting and then bend down like she was blowing bubbles in the water and was "practicing" ;)
She made a LOT of progress on days 10 and 11 with her kicking. Leah said she was right on target at that point and on time with everything as far as graduation was concerned. She said her only concern for Britt was how much water she was taking in with the open mouth issues. She did GREAT turning over though to get into her starfish and I was starting to see the practicing paying off!
On Day 12 really started focusing on the starfish and staying still for the starfish, it was a rough day and I kinda left feeling worried as to whether or not she'd ever "get it"
But then on Day 13 (March 15th) it just seemed to all "CLICK!" I was solo with Britt because Zach took Kye golfing that afternoon and it was a Friday (the makeup day for the day she missed with the poop in the pool incident). She did AMAZING. She was kicking great, learning to really be still in her starfish, rilled over great, and even was holding her breath better. She even was SWIMMING! I seriously got tears in my eyes I was so, so SO proud of her. When she was crying she was so funny because she was calling out "dada dada dada BALL!" haha I didn't take any pictures that day and instead focused on just watching her skills and taking a couple videos. The progress you can see is HUGE! Video #1 from Day 13 and Video #2 from Day 13. This was her breakthrough day for sure :)
On Monday March 18th (Day 14) Mrs. Charlotte and Casey came to watch the kids swim. Britt really gave them a show and didn't cry AT ALL. Huge step for her!!! She did AMAZING!
On day 15 she was really suffering from that eye junk and I was sick myself with the crud. She didn't cry too much though and did say "daddy ballllll" a lot instead! Video of Day 15 and another video of Day 15.
Loved seeing her cute little chubby cheeks pop up over the side of the pool ;)
By Day 17 and 18 Britt was doing AMAZING at every. single. thing. Except for the most important part of the lessons: starfish. Having a good solid starfish is critical to surviving in the water! It's kinda the whole point of survival swim ;) I was trying not to stress out but seeing all the other kids (especially the BABY who was only 9 months old and swam before Britt) made me nervous that Britt wasn't going to be able to graduate due to that issue. Leah had me start bringing her to lessons wearing the heaviest clothes she owned (fleece!) to help her be heavier in the water so she'd do better at her starfish. Leah pretty much stopped working on anything else with her except for starfish and did that each lesson, for the entire lesson from then on. The fleece outfit did help but we talked about it and decided to have her come additional time beyond the end of her lessons before having her "graduate." I was a little bummed about it but also wanted to MAKE SURE she really grasped everything fully and was so appreciative to Leah for devoting that time to her! Video!
She insisted on wearing her necklace to be glam during swim haha
On what was supposed to be her last day of class she really started doing SO GREAT. We had already decided to have her graduate the following week and had planned to have her come to two days of lessons prior to graduating. So like she was gonna have a lesson Monday and Tuesday then graduate Wednesday of the "bonus week," but she did SO amazing that Leah said we could just go ahead and have her graduate that Monday instead!!!
After we went through both swim and potty training I honestly think Britt thinks similar to the way I do. I over analyze everything so it tends to take me longer to grasp things and just "get it" with stuff b/c I'm thinking WAY too much about it. Once I FULLY understand something then I can excel at it. With potty training, Britt took awhile to fully grasp how to GO in the stinkin' potty! But once she figured it out she became a little pro at it. And swim was very much the same way. She took a long time to fully grasp how to successfully do the starfish but she now does it FLAWLESSLY. Her starfish at 16 months old is BEAUTIFUL and seriously "better" than Kye's at 4 years old and after having 2 years of swim :) Kye is quick to pick things up and can do well at things quickly (like Zach) and Britt takes a little longer to think it all through and analyze the situation before she masters a skill (like her Mama!).
Practicing and practicing that starfish!
Starfishing completely solo!
Cheering on Little Sister!
For Kye's graduation I took a video of his entire thing. You can see that HERE. If you do happen to watch both videos keep in mind that Kye is over a YEAR older than Britt in his video :) When I signed Britt up for her class so young I was nervous she wouldn't learn as much as he did, but I FOR SURE think she did!!!
And I also did the same for Britt! Here's Britt's Survival Swim Graduation Video :) Can I just add that I LOVE how she would always "fist bump" with Leah and never really wanted to do high fives...so cute ;)
I could NOT be more proud of Britt!!!! She did so, so amazing and it was so neat to see how she progressed throughout the lessons! I'm SO thankful for Tiny Bubbles and loved our experience working with Leah. I really debated about what to do after her swim lessons ended because our pool was NOT warm. I had my surgery and had to recover and it literally was 6 weeks after her graduation that we were able to get her in the water. It was just this past Sunday (MAY 19th) and the water was STILL cold. Britt ended up shivering and turning purple so I had to FORCE her out of the pool to get warm, this weather is crazy!!! I was SO worried that she'd struggle once we were able to start working with her, but she did AWESOME. She shocked me b/c she LOVED it. We got right in and she was ducking her head down wanting to go under and kicking her toes non-stop! She still had a PERFECT starfish and did AWESOME holding her breath under the water. We do need to work on her turning from swimming to her starfish as right now she's like doing a flip up and over rather than just turning around...but luckily Robyn used to work up there and gave me some pointers to try with her this week. The wonderful thing is that if Britt needs some refresher classes I can always call Tiny Bubbles and they will help us out :) I think having Kye LOVE the water and showing off his skills makes Britt more eager to show off hers and they are playing off each other. It was FUN! I also think having practiced so much with Kye makes me feel very natural practicing with Britt and I do feel like I know how to handle her in the pool and how to properly instruct her to do things correctly! I'm SO excited for this SUMMER!!!!
Our goal is to never have our kids have to take the survival course more than once. It is an AMAZING course but it's very time consuming (4 days a week for 5 weeks ain't no joke) and it's pretty pricey. While it's worth every penny, it's also something I consider to be an investment and think that it's CRUCIAL to practice the skills constantly at home (I plan to be in the water with her at least 3-5 times a week once it's warm enough) and something we will make sure to keep up in the winter months with more lessons at Tiny Bubbles to keep her skill set fresh!
If you are local I HIGHLY recommend giving Tiny Bubbles a call! No matter WHAT your child's age or skill level, they can learn water safety! And if you do call them, mention me as they do have a referral program ;)
Another kid who is a swim lover! Maybe we'll have TWO Olympians in the future ;)