Sanger Family Swim Story
The story of Grace and her passion for swimming actually began months before she was even born. As my pregnancy developed it was consistently pointed out by sonographers during my ultrasounds the size of my baby’s shoulders. They were extraordinarily large.
When she was born via caesarean section, the obstetrician said “I do believe we have Australia’s next top swimmer going by the size of her shoulders”! The obstetrician quickly also said “oh my goodness by the sound of that strong cry she is going to be a chatterbox”. If you know Grace, then you surely know these two comments came to be factually true and so the seed was planted that Grace would be suited to swimming (and talking too).
Grace started swimming lessons at Eva Bory Swim School in Emu Plains when she was exactly 6 months old. Each week we would go in the water with her, kicking, splashing, going through tunnels and pretending to be speed boats with the kickboard. We came to love this time with Grace as it was purely one on one time with her. No phones, no televisions. Just quality uninterrupted time. We both strongly felt this was the responsible thing to do as we had an inground swimming pool. As a paramedic and police officer we had both seen the devastating consequences of losing a child to drowning in a swimming pool.
Grace’s first teacher was Robyn who was kind, gentle and soft. The right traits for a swimming teacher in charge of a pool full of babies. Grace loved learning to swim until it was time for her to swim to the side of the pool on her own. Then there were many tears. Robyn’s reassurance and encouragement, whilst still being firm, enabled Grace to master the skill. Grace was very head strong but she had met her match in Robyn. A beautiful relationship flourished and still exists to this day.
Once Grace had mastered all there was to learn from Robyn she was introduced to Jenny who was bright and bubbly and wouldn’t take any nonsense. Now if Grace thought Robyn was fair dinkum about learning to swim, she had met her match in Jenny. Grace quickly developed a fun, healthy respect for Jenny and we all began to see a toddler turn into a beautiful swimmer. Jenny was creative and spontaneous which motivated the children to do well in class.
The next step in Grace’s swimming lessons was Fiona who had a genuine love for kids. I saw her laugh with Grace, celebrate her successes and inspire her with her losses. I saw her listen to Grace’s many stories she had told. Her classroom was not a blackboard but a swimming pool filled with a lot of understanding and patience. Her warm smile and her genuine care and interest in the kids was there for everyone to see.
The final step was with Hayden who had the hardest job with Grace as he had to push her to do her best at the same time trying to make learning interesting and fun. He allowed a balance in his teaching that recognised when she was tired and couldn’t work as hard as she normally would. Yet he was able to recognise the times she had abundant energy and needed structure. He fostered a trusting relationship with Grace which allowed him to constructively critique her strokes without discouraging her.
All of Grace’s teachers formed strong relationships that reflected in her enthusiasm for swimming. All of these teachers were warm, enthusiastic and caring. What was amazing was the unexpected “nurturing”. There are good teachers and then there are great teachers. Grace’s teachers fell into the later category. This nurturing was an intrinsic attribute of these beautiful teachers. Teaching Grace was not about getting paid to do a job it was about a passion to teach a skill to save each child’s life should they get into trouble in the water.
Each of them knew the important responsibility they had. You just have to see Grace’s face light up each and every time she sees Robyn, Jenny, Fiona and Hayden. She sees her teachers as her hero’s and wants to be just like them when she grows up. And there is no greater compliment than this.
Grace found a joy that will last a lifetime.