When I was pregnant Dan and I talked a lot about taking the baby swimming. About how we wanted him or her to be confident in the water from an early age. Oliver is getting there with swimming, but it seemed to take such a long time for him to make improvements. He used to be worried when he couldn’t touch the floor or got water in his face. We swore the baby would get introduced to swimming early and often so we wouldn’t have this situation again.
But… that didn’t happen. Grace was born in September, and I didn’t want to take her swimming when she was a tiny newborn, so I put it off for a couple of months. Then it was winter, and the thought of her coming out of the leisure centre when it was freezing outside put me off again! There was always a reason not to go, so it wasn’t until July that she had her first trip to the swimming pool.
Thankfully she loved it, so I didn’t feel too bad that I hadn’t taken her earlier. But then it was the summer holidays and life got in the way again. So when I got the chance to go along to a Puddle Ducks class I jumped at the opportunity to see if Grace would still like being in the pool. I’d also heard lots about Puddle Ducks in the past, so I wanted to see if they lived up to all the hype.
Puddle Ducks Swimming Lessons
We were put into the the Splashers group, which is for babies aged 6 to 15 months, at Durham Trinity School. There is a session for younger babies, but our group is designed to help babies and toddlers develop key swimming skills through splashing and jumping!
I’m always uncomfortable going to new places, in case I end up wandering round lost for ages, but the directions on the website to the venue were great. I had a general idea of where we were going, but they were really clear. When we arrived a Puddle Ducks staff member met us and gave us more information on changing rooms, etc so nothing to worry about there!
Durham Trinity School
Durham Trinity School is pretty much in the centre of Durham City, and is a school for children aged 2 to 19 who have additional needs. The parts we saw were all new, clean and very smart. It looked like a brand new facility. Exactly what you want in a school, as well as a swimming venue!
The changing rooms were small, and had no cubicles which was a bit of a downside for me. However, I can understand why this is the case, based on the nature of the school. As I said above, they were really clean and tidy so no worries about putting your baby on the benches or floor, apart from the water! There was also a travel cot in the middle of the room, which meant you could be sure your baby was safe while you got ready.
The Splashers Lesson
After getting changed into our costumes Grace and I made our way into the pool area. The pool was quite small, smaller than a normal childrens’ pool, so I hoped we wouldn’t be too squashed in. I didn’t have to worry though as there were only six mums and babies in the pool so we had plenty of room.
I was approached by a staff member who told us Grace would need to wear a special pair of swimming pants over her swim nappy. As we didn’t have these we were able to borrow some which was great. They were quite tight around her legs, but I guess that was to avoid any leakages!
First things first, I had to hand Grace over to the swim teacher so she could go in from the poolside while I went down the steps. Grace isn’t keen on strangers, so we had a few tears at this point, but all the other babies had no problems with the arrangement. I guess in time Grace would be okay with it too.
Once we were all in the pool we started the lesson off with the Puddle Ducks welcome song. It was a happy little song, but we didn’t know the words so we just bobbed along to it as best we could!
The next 25 minutes or so were spent doing different swimming activities to show Grace different skills for her to copy and learn. We had time facing each other while blowing bubbles and splashing our hands in the water. This was followed by submersion, where the swimming teacher put the babies under the water to swim them up to their mums. As Grace hadn’t been to Puddle Ducks before she didn’t have to take part in this bit (thankfully). We had a plastic bowl to pour water over her head and body. She’s not much of a fan of this, hair wash night is traumatic, but we did our best.
I really enjoyed what we did next. I lay Grace on her back with her head on my shoulder. With her head wedged in my neck I was able to hold her legs and encourage her to kick. She seemed really relaxed with this so we had a lot of fun. We were also given a woggle to keep me afloat while I swam backwards. This was good as it gave Grace a proper swimming feeling.
I would say my favourite part of the lesson was when we encouraged the babies to hold onto the side of the pool. We started in the middle of the pool and swam to the side saying “reach”. Grace reached out for, and held onto, the side every time and enjoyed swimming back to the middle. After this I had to sit her on the side for her to fall/jump into the pool. I could either hold her to do this and jump her in, or let her lean forward a bit then catch her. She’s a bit of a thrillseeker so she loved this!
The last activity was chasing after rubber ducks, with Grace balanced between my outstretched arms. This was to encourage her to stretch her arms out as if she was swimming. She found chasing after the little ducks quite exciting I think.
The lesson ended with all the babies on a big float while we sang “Jelly on a Plate”. Now there’s a song I could join in with! All the mums gently shook the float, making the babies wobble, and at the end of the song we whooshed them into the water. We all came into a circle and the swimming teacher sang a song to say goodbye and that was the end.
Both me and Grace had fun at the Puddle Ducks lesson, and all the other babies seemed quite confident so their classes must work. I was really impressed with the venue and the content of the lesson, I can understand why they have such a good reputation.
It’s been a while since I’ve done baby swimming classes, but I would say the content wasn’t too different to the classes run by our council owned leisure centre Oliver attended 8(ish) years ago.
I think the main positive when I compare the two is the relationship between the teacher and the families. As I mentioned earlier, the other babies were happy to be taken by the swim teacher into the pool, and one boy was used by her for demonstrations without any upset. The swimming teacher also knew all the babies’ names. I really like this approach. Although Grace is young it makes me feel at ease when people remember her name, and as she gets older I’m sure she will appreciate it too.
I was provided with a free taster session for the Puddle Ducks swimming lesson, as well as receiving payment to write this review. The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not influenced by the payment I have received.
** This post is part of #blogtober17 where I’m going to try and post every day in October! To find more #blogtober posts, search blogtober17 in the search bar **