It's my life, but not as I knew it!

My mum had a head teacher who said that whatever else children in his school learnt, they must all learn to swim. My mum passed the same philosophy onto my brother and me- I may not particularly like going underwater but I am safe in the water and that’s the important bit. Rob, having been a lifeguard on the small Italian island where he grew up, is a fish. We both wanted the twins to be confident and competent in water.
When they were six weeks old (and baring in mind they were five weeks early, they were teeny tiny) we took them on their first course of swimming lessons with London Baby Swim in Osterley. They also have a location in Wandsworth. They are purpose-built swimming pool, maintained at a toasty 33oC with low chlorine levels and specially trained instructors. They had trouble staying awake throughout the first few lessons, but always seemed to enjoy them. Cracker had mild talipes and the swimming got him to strengthen his leg and foot muscles and now it’s not noticeable at all. We did two courses with them, one of the major benefits of maternity leave was being off for that time and being able to sign up for certain days. Osterley is very far away from us, over an hour on the tube each way, but it was a sad day when we had our last session there.
We then did a course with Water Babies at the Bridge School in Islington. Because this one was held at a school the water was still nice and warm for them and they were bigger so they could do more.
After these courses, and a trip to visit Rob’s family in Italy, we started taking them swimming in our own. We searched for a family friendly swimming pool (not that easy in London). We had a bad experience at our local pool, Oasis, where the manager told us we shouldn’t be bringing young children swimming and we left after five minutes and a refund. We had a better experience at Marshall Street Leisure Centre with lovely, helpful staff but it was absolutely freezing!! We then went a few times to Archway Leisure Centre which was nice, but with a wave pool, slide and other fun things it is probably best for older children who can already swim. We have now been lucky enough to find out that our local LA Fitness has family swim times every day, and the option to add your children to your membership. If we go at least three times a month, it works out a very good deal too. The pool is warm, not too busy and the changing rooms are clean and spacious.
I know I have talked about specific pools and businesses here, but what I wanted to get across to you is that there are many options out there for baby and toddler swimming , it is just a case of googling, searching and asking other parents for recommendations. There are a great many articles out there that show the positive aspects of baby swimming on both babies and parents, which shows how beneficial that hour a week can be for you and your family. Combine that with a life-long confidence in water, the gentle exercise you’ll all get and I’m glad we made the decision to take Biscuit and Cracker swimming from when they were young. They are happy in the water and enjoy going, I couldn’t ask for more.


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