Hello! I’m Anna, mum to three children – Cameron aged 17, Max 14 and, with my partner Sam, are parents to Theo, nearly 20 months. We live in Leeds, have two cats (Milo and Buttons) and are huge Water Babies advocates, with all three children being Water Babies babies! This is our story.
My son’s journeys with Water Babies
Both of the older boys started with Water Babies from a young age. Cameron’s first lesson was at nearly six months old, and Max at six weeks. Most recently, Theo also started Water Babies at around six weeks old. Both teenagers stayed with Water Babies until they were nearly three years old.
17 years ago, I originally decided to start swimming lessons with Cameron as a baby, after seeing an advert and finding out more about how babies under six months old have a natural reflex which enables them to hold their breath underwater, and recognising how being able to swim is an absolute must, as it’s a life-saving skill. Cameron was like an absolute fish, despite being around the limit for losing the natural reflex. But he took so easily to swimming and more importantly, absolutely loved it. It was a great activity for both of us to do together, and we really enjoyed it.
Cameron was able to swim by himself at 2 years old which was incredible. I have a great memory of taking him on holiday and him swimming at a water park, with other parents initially looking terrified at a toddler in the water! But this soon turned to amazement when they realised he was quite confidently swimming by himself.
It was a no brainer decision to do the same when Max came along. Both boys continued their swimming journeys well beyond Water Babies lessons, achieving distances and medal awards, along with life-saving qualifications and are both really confident swimmers.
When Theo joined the family, one of the first things we did was to get him enrolled to join Water Babies, so he can benefit from the same skills. And just like his big brothers, he’s taken to it straight from the start and absolutely loves going to his lessons!
I can remember how Cameron used to love practicing ‘Monkey Monkey Monkey’, learning to hold onto the side, and move along holding on. This has now translated more recently for Theo into Saffi Moves to Safety, which I love through the thematic new programme supporting, Safety, Skills and Strokes. Theo loves the lessons, particularly the songs – ‘Dingle Dangle Scarecrow’ being his particular favourite currently! He’s also a huge fan of catching the toy fish or balls.
My partner Sam has taken Theo to a majority of his swimming lessons. In fact, Theo’s class is predominantly Dads who swim with their babies, which is a lovely change to see from when the older boys used to do the classes and it was mostly Mums.
Recently, however, Sam had to have some surgery which meant he couldn’t do lessons for a couple of weeks, and I struggle for health reasons also. So we spoke to the office and asked if it would be OK if Cameron could attend the lessons with Theo, and were really pleased that he could! It was an amazing feeling as a mum watching my eldest child swim with my youngest, and ironically, the first time Cameron was in the pool with Theo, teacher Arran was covering the lesson as our normal teacher was away.
Arran actually taught Cameron on occasion when he was a baby, making both of us feel sadly quite old! Cameron did so well having only been to one lesson since he was a water baby himself, and Theo absolutely loved doing the lessons with him as a change from Dad.
A skill for life
All of us highly recommend Water Babies and in terms of any advice for anyone considering starting baby swimming, we absolutely say go for it! There are so many activities you can now do with babies, but very few of them are potentially life-saving. Also, both you and the babies have an amazing time learning and developing together.
I also think it is good to start earlier, when the in-built reflex is there as it makes things slightly easier. That said, even at six months old it certainly wasn’t any detriment to Cameron, so don’t let that stop you if they are older than six months!
We hope you have as much of an amazing time as we did, and continue to do so with our son Theo.