Sheldrake Family Swim Story

As a child I came close to drowning, twice. Once at the beach, where I was pulled up from under the water by another child, with my mother chatting, just metres away. The second time I was older, a proficient swimmer, but I dived too deep, hit my head, and winded myself to the point that I was pulled from the pool, gasping desperately for breath, with my parents enjoying a BBQ just metres away, oblivious to the danger I’d been in. Both experiences serve as a strong reminder about how important it is to be confident in the water.
When my youngest son was 6 months old, knowing we had a pool, there was no question about starting swimming lessons – I couldn’t wait for him to be old enough. Suddenly the beautiful pool in the backyard had become a deathtrap in my mind for my child who wasn’t yet able to swim. Eva Bory’s was the obvious choice – I had learnt there myself in the 1970’s (showing my age!) – so I knew and trusted this local swim school.
Harrison did very well. Despite sickness, and despite being in and out of hospital for various infections in his second year, swimming lessons were a constant fixture in our lives, and a time that I very much enjoyed. Swimming lessons represented one on one time, in the midst of a very busy life. This year, after 7 years of weekly swimming lessons, Harrison was one of only 2 year 2 students to compete in his schools swimming carnival – something he asked to do, because he felt capable to swim 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke, when his peers could not. Harrison didn’t achieve a time to progress him to the next level of competition, but he completed the 50m race for both strokes, and stood a little taller as a result. Confidence is so important, and it made him so happy to be able to participate.
When Edie came along, 2 years after her brother, she was again enrolled in swimming lessons at 6 months of age. All was well, until she graduated to squids – the first level where I was not in the water with her during lessons – and then all hell broke loose! Thank goodness for the lovely swim teaching and reception staff at Eva Bory’s , reassuring me that that her screaming would subside if I just stuck with it – so I did stick with it, for 6 long weeks of constant screaming, with me standing outside in the Eva Bory’s carpark, feeling very emotional, and wondering if it was all worth it? But, with a pool in the backyard, swimming lessons are absolutely non-negotiable. Fast forward 3 years, to last week, when Edie was promoted from Stingrays to Dolphins, bragging to anyone who would listen and proudly buying the flippers she needs for the next level, and I know I made the right choice to continue.
Which is very good timing, as I also have a 2 year old who is going through a stage where he is very resistant to learning to swim. He spent his last few swimming lessons pushing away the kickboard, refusing to paddle his hands or kick, and asking (repeatedly, and incessantly) to watch the Wiggles instead. Rafferty is my third and last child, and as such, I am torn, should I feel sad or excited about the fact that this is this is the last lesson stage that I will have to get in the water with my child? It’s such lovely bonding time – half an hour where I can only focus on my child obtaining the life skill of swimming – but I must admit the idea of one less swimming costume to wash and half an hour of downtime sitting watching all 3 children progress with their swimming is very appealing…..
My children do not aspire to be competitive swimmers – Harrison lives for football, and Edie loves her dancing – but as well as being a lifesaving skill, they both recognise that swimming gives them additional fitness to give them a valuable edge in their chosen sports, so (sometimes grudgingly I admit) they attend their weekly swimming lesson, but they always feel happy and motivated afterwards. As do I, 30 years on from my first swimming lessons at Eva Bory’s!
We can never protect our children 24/7, or ensure they are 100% safe around water – but we can do our very best to ensure they are able to swim, and equip them with the water safety skills needed to have the best chance of being able to cope if put in a tricky aquatic situation. As a mother, my best advice is to please persevere, summer and winter – swimming lessons are so very valuable.

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