Thursday, June 09, 2016

Bowen learns to snorkel

A year and a half ago, for the BVI trip, I bought a mask, snorkel, and fins for Bowen. To my disappointment, while he was enthusiastic about wearing them for a trial, he wasn't excited at all about getting in the water with them. Ultimately, he'd swim in the water with a lifejacket and wetsuit, but never got to see the fishes under water until the Punta Cana trip last year.

For a while we'd take Bowen to swimming lessons. But they never really took. Either he didn't click with the teacher, or he'd treat each swim lesson as an exercise in playing. Xiaoqin got tired of spending the money and decided that we'd teach him how to swim ourselves.

I learned to swim when I was so young that I had no memory of how I learned how to swim. It was pretty frustrating for me, and I'd watch Bowen kick and flail in the water getting nowhere and getting demotivated. I then thought of these old mask, snorkel, and fins sitting unused and decided to try them out again.

Well, this time, they worked! I first gave Bowen a kickboard, his swimming goggles, and the fins. Fins amplify your kicking and the minute he got results out of kicking he was motivated to learn. It took less than 15 minutes before he could use the kickboard and maneuver wherever he wanted to in the pool.

After that, it was time to switch to mask and snorkel. He was really skeptical, but I think finally his mouth had grown wide enough to accommodate the snorkel (barely). I also asked if he wanted to stay on the boat instead of snorkeling to see the fishes, and he finally gave it a shot. With kickboard, mask, and snorkel, he could then swim 25m from one end of the pool to another. He got fast enough that he could swim a lap in the time it took for me to swim three.

Then yesterday, he finally was willing to give up the kickboard. He can now float in the water, look down, relax, and go wherever he wanted in the pool. This was huge, since it really meant that he could snorkel in calm waters under adult supervision. As soon as he could do this he never wanted to leave the pool again, swimming from one end to another continuously without needing to be cajoled. He only left the pool after he got cold, asking, "Are we going with Arturo?" I was confused until he reminded me that he wanted to go sailing in the catamaran and go snorkel off the back of the boat!

That's pretty cool. I rarely identify with people who say they're proud of their kids. I still don't: taking credit for your children's achievements feels kinda iffy. But I'm really glad (and pleasantly surprised) that all that equipment actually ended up being used.
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