Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sad start to swimming

Yesterday LLC and I rocked up at the gym for a swim in the kiddie pool as we often do on a Monday morning. She gets really excited when we arrive, and doesn’t even protest when I strip her down to suit her up. After catching up with one of the attendants in the changing room that we’ve got to know over the last year and a bit, we were off to the pool. LLC’s shrieks of excitement announced our arrival.

Hmmmm. The pool looked a lot busier than normal, in fact, what was this? There was a parent/child swimming lesson underway for five mothers/babies. Now LLC and I have been swimming at this time on and off for months, and we have never once encountered a swimming lesson for more than one other person in the pool at this time. It is a “pay as you go” swimming lesson slot, but no one is usually there aside from us.

I put down our towels and headed to the pool with LLC, but thought I better have a quick glance at the nearby lifeguard for affirmation that we were still okay to use the pool a la full flow swimming lesson. She said no. I asked if we could join the lesson and pay afterwards. She said no. So LLC and I had to huddle together on our towels on the bench at the side of the pool to wait 20 minutes for the lesson to finish.

I braced myself for a meltdown; how do you explain to a 16 month-old that loves swimming who knows the routine (arrive at the pool, go into the pool, splash!) that you have to wait your turn for 20 minutes (an eternity in baby time). I felt quite tearful actually. I had been speaking to LLC for the last half hour about our swim and here we were, and we couldn’t even go in.

She really surprised me though. It must be because she likes people watching so much. I got her a little plastic fish that squirts water and between that and watching the other children, she was really patient and didn’t cause a fuss. So I pulled it together. Finally it was our turn and we had a lovely swim.

Now I did know there was a pay as you go lesson at the time we arrived but I didn’t think twice about turning within the slot because it is never subscribed. And even if there had been a lesson on, I didn’t think they would stop us from entering the pool (unless it was totally overrun, which it was not) or reject my request to join and pay for the lesson. Considering the things I have seen at that pool – teenagers kissing and fondling in adult pool, older children leaping into shallow water of the kiddie pool – I think it is a bit ridiculous that they made us wait on the side for 20 minutes. The lifeguard was like a programmed robot, recalling policy, blind to the human element. If the room temperature was colder, or LLC has been younger, we would have had to go back to the changing room and "hang out" or just call it a day.  But I've learned my lesson now.

You may have seen that Huggies has a new Little Swimmers campaign where you can identify and / or rate your local pool as child friendly. They take several factors into account, and suffice to say I won’t be rating my gym pool as such at this time. As a Huggies Mum I was involved in a focus group about this Little Swimmers campaign earlier this year and it’s lovely to see it come to fruition. LLC and I also benefited from a free swimming lesson (one with a lovely, informative instructor who didn’t look like she had swallowed a wasp like the one at my gym – glad I didn’t have to pay for that in the end....) when we joined some other mothers to generate pictures for the campaign. If you look on the Little Swimmers website, you might just spot us.
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