One Stroke At A Time

One Stroke At A Time

Last summer, I registered my six-year-old son for swimming lessons.

2 min read

Last summer, I registered my six-year-old son for swimming lessons. He desperately needed an extracurricular activity––up to that point, he’d spent many weekends cheering on his older brother at football or soccer games but didn’t have a pursuit of his own. I also knew that swimming was a lifesaving skill, one I hadn’t yet learned when I was his age.

In the beginning, he was fearful. He would confidently flail his arms and legs when the instructor supported him in the water. But as soon as he had to attempt a stroke or a skill independently, he’d clam up.

After a few weeks, he grew more comfortable, transitioning from hesitance to full-fledged rebellion. Whenever I’d catch sight of him, I could see the instructor redirecting him or cautioning him. He ran when he needed to walk, dove for toys when he needed to listen, bent his legs when he needed to straighten them. The pool quickly became his domain, and his swim lesson was just another form of playtime.

I’ll admit that I didn’t have the highest hopes. At this particular swim school, the children were divided by levels, with new students starting at Level 1. My son was slotted into Level 1 with another swimmer, but she soon progressed to Level 2. I wondered if my kiddo was falling behind, if he too was supposed to reach Level 2 in the same timeframe. Was I missing something?

When the instructors tested him for advancement, he showed signs of growth but wasn’t quite ready to move up. We continued on, showing up every Saturday, with my son as the lone Level 1 swimmer. Upon news of our move to St. Louis, I assumed he’d finish out his time at this swim school where he started. We could pick up at a new school after we got settled, and he could resume his push for Level 2 there.

However, at his last lesson before the big move, the instructors tested him once more––and graduated him to Level 2. Oh, the look of pride on his face when he shared the news. He had the biggest smile, and he displayed a newfound confidence, getting to where he needed to be on his own time. He was a better swimmer, sure, but he was also maturing right before my eyes. Aquatic leaders help millions of kids achieve this same feeling each year.

Be it introductory swim lessons, more advanced activities like lifeguard training or swim teams, or innovative new facilities, aquatic departments play a pivotal role in residents’ lives. And that’s what this issue is all about. From installing trending features in waterparks to engaging teen swimmers to addressing irrigation concerns, our writers explore every aspect of aquatics, covering the familiar and the unexpected.

Like my son, so many of us view the pool as a place of pure fun, and in many instances, it is. But it’s also important to consider other aspects like safety, maintenance, and planning, so that young swimmers can improve one stroke at a time and whole communities can, too.