I have a theory that if you put a 7 year old in a swimming pool or a lake, you can stand back and watch him or her learn to swim. Throw that child a few pointers about kicking, stroking, and breathing and watch a swimmer materialize before your eyes.
I had the opportunity to witness just such a thing when I went to Ponderosa Hills pool with Athan, Leon and Aliou. Our hosts were Jenny, Kyle, and Candice, and when we got there at 10am, we had the entire pool to ourselves. The kids stayed in the pool for the next 2 1/2 hours, only emerging a couple of times to scarf down a fat pretzel, a bite of beef jerkey, or sip of melted yogurt before getting right back in the water.
Veterans Kyle and Candice were great instructors and life guards and undoubtedly the models for some of the things the boys learned. Jenny and I took turns getting in the water with the kids while the other one stayed on deck with an eagle eye watching their playful antics. Jenny pulled the boys on water boards for thrilling trips into the deep water and had a pool bottom "tea party" with Candice. I tended to put on my instructional cap, offering suggestions for improving mobility in the water. The main lesson of the day was cupping one's hands for greater traction during dog paddle and crawl stroke and looking at the sky while floating on the back to improve buoyancy. They all enjoyed learning how to do the dead man's float and diving from a kneeling position on the deck.
Athan probably had the most remarkable growth spurt when he discovered he could dive in and swim ALL the way across the pool. After about 10 of these trips, Candice led him to the deep end (with our permission) to try his new found skill there. He was glowing with pride, swimming beside the elegant mermaid Candice.
Aliou had a blast kicking, floating, and diving on water toys, but also demonstrated a very skillful back stroke.
Leon was an ever-eager student, who despite chattering teeth, continued to practice his crawl stroke all morning and finally mastered a pretty good dog paddle that took a little less energy and moved him more swiftly to where he wanted to go. His back float is also superb!
Kyle, the oldest of the bunch, showed everyone how to do flip dives off the side and handstands on the bottom, which they tried again and again. He was also a pair of 3rd eyes, keeping watch on 3 rambunctious 7-year-olds who were mastering the ability to swim.
Sadly, I forgot the camera, though I'm not sure it would have been easy to replace the eagle eye with a camera lens with everyone shouting "Watch this, Dearma!" Jenny and I agreed that being ultra-alert for 2 1/2 hours was exhausting. I don't know about her, but I took a nap when I got home.