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Splish, Splash, Splosh!

February 3, 2010

This evening, Chipmunk went swimming with the disabled swimmers group for the first time.  (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can check the post here!).  Beforehand, he was nervous, jittery and anxious – pretty much as you’d expect.

And then, something happened.

We got into the water, and one of the male leaders came to talk to Chipmunk.  And Chipmunk responded.  The male leader got into the water, all the time talking gently to Chipmunk – who then allowed the leader to lay him on his back and support him, Chipmunk’s head on his shoulder, while he encouraged him to kick his legs.  He did this for two lengths of the (small) pool, before allowing Chipmunk to go back to walking up and down as his physio recommended.  He left to see to someone else, promising to return later.

A few minutes after this, the female leader came to see Chipmunk.  She brought a woggle* with her.  Within a couple of minutes, Chipmunk was off – first on his front, then on his back.  Using his arms and legs, with the woggle for support and the female leader by his side, but not touching him.

She then asked if he would be prepared to get his face wet.  This has always been Chipmunk’s biggest obstacle.  He will put his mouth in and blow bubbles, but the water goes no further than his top lip.  If you think he’s gonna get his nose wet, you’ve got another think coming!  So, what did he do when she asked him this?  Why, he scooped up a handful of water and threw it over his face, of course!  And then he did it again.  And again.  And again.  In fact, she had to give up on asking him the next question, because he was so enjoying soaking himself (and everyone else within five feet of him, including me!).  He was bouncing up and down, pouring water over his head, shouting:  “This is fun!” and giggling non-stop!  Then, she asked him to jump in.  He did…twice!

To say this was a different child would be the understatement of the decade!  He was loving it!  He was happy, and confident, and free.  He made good eye contact with both leaders when they spoke with him (apart from when he got a little carried away with the splashing!) and he enjoyed every second of it.  There were no demands, no unrealistic expectations, no pressure.  He could just revel in being in the water, with other people who are in similar situations to his.

We were in the pool for almost an hour, and Chipmunk did not want to get out at all.

The female leader knows Chipmunk’s teacher, and has promised faithfully to tell her how well he did tonight.  He even made a friend – a young adult with learning difficulties who took a shine to him.  They talked in the pool, in the changing room and on the way out.  They shook hands and agreed to see each other next week.

The effect this one swimming session has had on Chipmunk is astonishing.  And you know, I think this is going to work.  Roll on next week.

*Woggle:  An unsinkable piece of circular polystyrene, used as a flotation device when learning to swim.

Image Courtesy cproppe
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. tndaisy1960 permalink
    February 3, 2010 22:17

    I’m so glad he’s finally found a way to be comfortable in the water! I heartily congratulate him, while at the same time, being more than a little jealous! I’ve always wanted to learn how to swim but, like him, have issues that have always kept me from it.

    Bravo, little guy!

  2. February 3, 2010 22:18

    I’m so excited for both you and Chipmunk! I can’t wait to hear how he does next time. And over here? We call those “noodles”. 🙂

  3. February 3, 2010 22:26

    This is great news, I’m so pleased for both of you. They’ll be no stopping him now!

  4. Gina Watson permalink
    February 3, 2010 22:51

    What lovely news and I am so delighted, Thank goodness he has had a positive experience and gained so much confidence in the water. Hallelujah. What an encouragement to you too.

  5. February 3, 2010 23:29

    Great post and news about Chipmunk…

    So happy for him… and you…

    Thank you for sharing this great story…

  6. February 4, 2010 11:45

    I’m so happy to read this! What a wonderful change from before. Great for both you and Chipmunk.

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