The first summer rainstorm in Florida arrives while it is still snowing in some places. I’ve been in full-summer mode a long time now (since Groundhog Day, actually), scouting out affordable swim lessons for the kids. Every year since they were brand new and bald I’ve set out for a public pool, confident that if I couldn’t teach them, a professional could. Wrong, wrong, wrong, year after year…but this year…!!!
I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it, but the swim lessons we’re in now seem to be working! My kids are enrolled at the US Swim Academy—a Broward County franchise that seems, god bless ‘em, willing to accommodate the middle class. Better yet, they’re in an indoor operation, so their pool is never closed due to “inclement weather,” something that shut us down pretty frequently in swim lessons of yesteryear.
It’s been a long journey, and I’ve kissed a lot of frogs hoping for swim lessons that actually work; but I've done the legwork because they MUST learn. Not knowing how to swim in the Sunshine State is as ridiculous as it is dangerous.
Surprisingly, it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal; the lessons have to jive with parent and child, our you’re looking at another summer of blowing up water wings. What I discovered is this. When you’re distracted, babysitter deficient, toting strollers, Block 40, towels and change of clothes for little people who would rather be watching Sponge Bob, well…it’s hard coaxing them into a pool—and when you finally get everybody up to their necks in chlorinated H20, certain you’ve been blowing bubbles and hanging off the side of the pool for hours—you look at your watch and see the whole ordeal actually took about 26 minutes; something that makes you grimace when passerby see you scooping sand toys from the shallow end and remark: “I bet they’re going to go to bed extra early for you tonight!”
So, I guess I just revealed that I couldn’t teach them by myself. So far, I feel like Goldilocks with an extra bowl of porridge thrown in. Teaching them myself was too hard. The private lessons were too god-awful expensive. The county lessons at Deerfield Beach Aquatic Center were too funny! (About 100 preschoolers filled the pool and when my son refused to get in, do you know what the 18-year-old kid in charge said? “Suit yourself, buddy!”
Then I moved to Coral Springs and tried the US Swim Academy; just right!
I read somewhere that the average age in this city is 31. Almost 5 years ago, I represented the generation majority—and did I fit the typical family profile back then. In those days, leaving the house without little baggies full of Cheerios meant we were screwed. Now, at 3 and 5, the kids are actually pretty sophisticated, and maybe that’s part of the reason these swim lessons are working.
They take their lessons separately. My boy goes on Wednesdays while his little sister sits in a pool side bleacher, munching on chips and calling out to him: “Way to go, Maxie! You’re going to win the championship!”
I don’t know about that, but he’s got a decent shot at learning to dogpaddle.