My Journal - Week 81 (18Mar11)

Hunter's very 1st official swimming lesson!!!

As promised, I mentioned a few posts back that I would tell everyone how Hunter's very first official swimming lesson went.  In all honesty, I was more worried about Hunter being afraid of being handed off to a complete stranger and also how I would react to seeing him upset.  I really didn't believe that he wouldn't be upset since it has been quite evident that Hunter is experiencing the separation anxiety stage where a loss of seeing mom for more than a few seconds causes him some panic.  The reality though was more surprising than I had expected.  Hunter did fantastic.  My family tells me, I don't give Hunter enough credit.  The joke is, I didn't give myself enough credit either... I knew in my heart that I would be the one to have a more difficult time with his fears than he would and thus my packing a whole box of Kleenex to take to his lesson... for "just in case" I sprung a leak!

In perfect mommy fashion, I took my camera and also my video recorder.  Unfortunately the one way glass would not allow me to use the camera to take photos, but shooting the video was a go.  So, the following are five separate short takes of Hunter's entire 1/2 hour lesson!  As a side note, the crying you may hear in the back ground is neither myself or Hunter.  It was another small baby during her lesson, but oddly enough while she sounded like she wasn't enjoying her lesson, she actually was!

Beginning of Hunter's lesson (Part 1):
Here is Hunter, at his very 1st official swimming lesson. I really thought I would be using up an entire box of tissue as I had originally feared that Hunter would feel abandoned and scared for the lesson. Well, Hunter proved me wrong (once again) because he had a terrific time, despite the fact that we were no where in his sight for the whole lesson. Hunter did so very well, and I have to say I am so very proud!

Part 2:
Here is Hunter, doing very well, paying attention and learning.  More over, it would seem he's enjoying the water and taking in this new challenge of being taught "swimming" without his Mommy.  As you can see, Hunter is being instructed privately - one on one, despite being in a rotation with another baby. 

Part 3:
Here is Hunter, slowly becoming more acclimated to the water and his new instructors. I am still surprised beyond belief that Hunter is happy, excited and paying attention to his instructors. I had definitely not given Hunter the credit he deserved regarding handling separation from his parents at the same time as having to learn a new skill with strangers. Similarly, I also didn't give myself enough credit of being able to handle watching my son separating and not bawling my own eyes out!

Part 4:
Here is Hunter, doing very well, paying attention and learning. More over, it would seem he's enjoying the water and taking in this new challenge of being taught "swimming" without his Mommy. As you can see, Hunter is being instructed privately - one on one, despite being in a rotation with another baby.

Final part - Part 5:
For the final part of his lesson you can see that Hunter has done extremely well throughout the first 20 minutes of his lesson, but he is noticeably becoming less stimulated or surprised by his new surroundings which means that more typical "Hunter" behaviour has room to step in. Due to having no nap before swimming lessons, it appears that tiredness has caught up with Hunter and a slight rubbing of eyes comes into play. So with the rubbing of eyes, as well as the newness of his experience starting to wear off, a pout finally makes its way onto Hunter's face replacing the original yet surprisingly curious initial expressions. Although I am tickled and overjoyed with Hunters success and no fear attitude, Hunter wouldn't be Hunter without at least a hint of a tear for all that he had endured without his parents in reach and sight. Either way, I am tremendously overjoyed and extremely proud of my son for being as strong and emotionally calm for his very first swimming lesson and separation!  I can't wait for next week and hopefully Hunter is just as "fearless" next time!

B&C Aquatics REVIEW:
I have to say, the most important part to this whole experience, short of Hunter's success was his instructor Bonnie Buckler (the co-owner herself of B&C Aquatics), Ashley (one of the instructors and my initial contact for the company) and the facility itself.  The major differences between this private swim club and a recreational facility that has group lessons (aside from the price factor) is the care, attention and very specific professionalism that they demonstrate.  When I first contacted the organization, I was treated very personally, time was taken to explain every detail, their philosophy and how they instruct versus a general swim program.  I learned so much in about 10 minutes of speaking with Ashley regarding general recreational swim lessons and their private facility lessons and why it is so very important that they teach the way they do - which included explaining why they do not have parents in the pool, with the children or in view whatsoever.  Each lesson is structured around every individual child and not in a group mentality.  Progressions in the lessons occur when the student demonstrates understanding and an ability to perform, not based upon a time limit or how a group is structured to run.  Each instruction runs one on one, in a small group of no more then four students maximum.  In Hunter's case, there were only two students- which meant that Hunter learns a whole lot more then a group of six or more in a recreational setting.  I was further amazed in that when we arrived, Ashley came and spent literally the whole lesson explaining every detail about the lesson, what to expect of both Hunter and his instructor Bonnie during the lesson and more specifically exactly what Bonnie was doing during the lesson with Hunter.  She also addressed issues like what we can do outside of lessons to help Hunter, as well as things we shouldn't do that could hinder Hunter.  The pool temperature is always a wonderful 93 degrees Fahrenheit, the air temperature is no less than 91 degrees.  This is very important for mothers who are taking their babies for lessons and want to ensure that their child will remain warm.  The facility has regular change rooms as well as a family change room.  There is a comfortable parent viewing lounge with one way mirrored glass.  They also have a cafe attached to the facility with a full food menu for both children and adults.  I don't have a single negative thing to say about the club, even though the fee structure originally seemed very steep.  (I was able to get Hunter's 10 lessons for $49 on a deal which worked out to 78% off the regular price).  The program cost normally for his 10 lessons plus 4 kids meals would have been $218.00....

Now, after everything I have seen and been through one lesson for Hunter, I realize that sometimes great successes can come with a price tag.  The term "you pay for what you get" comes directly to mind in this case.  If however I do a true comparison in terms of prices, when you take any regular recreational community centre fee of $90-100 dollars for 8-9 lessons and understand that a class would contain more than 6 students to one instructor and then think how long it might take for a student to progress....  Or, the cost for a semi-private group (at the same recreational community centre) of 4 students at $149 for 8 lessons.  It then doesn't seem so bad that the cost of the private swim facility like B&C Aquatics who's fees are $185 for 11 lessons.  At first glance (without knowing all the details), it would (and did) seem very hard to justify nearly $200 for 11 lessons.  But it becomes very obvious after you do the comparison and see results why I will more than likely continue with the private club (versus the recreational centres) after Hunter concludes these 10 lessons.

I hope you enjoyed his lesson as much as I did!  It just goes to show (once again) that our kids are so willing and capable of doing whatever they need or want to and even if under tremendous pressure from their parents to excel!  I have always said, I expect Hunter to do everything and anything that any other child can or wants to do.  There is no reason for me to think, he can not.  He proves that every single day.  This is why I could go on for ever preaching about how "ranges" in Down syndrome have nothing to do with a child but all about the parents.  If you are not willing to expect your child to do well, then sadly you are setting them up for exactly that.  Push your children... all of them.  There is no reason not to.  When you expect them to excel, they will.  If you expect them to fail, they may do just that too.  I was recently told by a doctor who I am looking forward to working with in the future, there is no such thing as "high functioning" or "low functioning" children with Down syndrome.  I know this myself, and politely try to explain this to people who tell me that they see my child as very "high functioning".  My answer these days is, Hunter is typical.  It's often the parents who are either "high functioning" or "low functioning".

Stay tuned for more lessons!


  1. He did very well. I noticed that he was even kicking. How did he react once the lesson was over and he was returned to you?
    Keep video taping his progress it is interesting.


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