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It’s not going swimmingly

PUBLISHED: 15:14 11 December 2018

Everyone else's children seem happy to try to learn the strokes,   Picture Getty Images

Everyone else's children seem happy to try to learn the strokes, Picture Getty Images

Archant

She says she can swim, but she can’t, or can she? asks Jo Malone

Thalia won't put her face anywhere near the water, let alone consider going underwater. Picture Getty ImagesThalia won't put her face anywhere near the water, let alone consider going underwater. Picture Getty Images

I’m looking at Thalia in amazement.

We do, actually, do this quite often although sometimes it’s more bemusement than amazement. You’d think after eight years we’d know that nothing about her is predictable. She can change her mind, and mood, quicker than anyone I know. One minute she loves pink, the next she hates it, same goes for people, foods, music, clothes, shoes, stories and which side of the car she likes to get out of.

But she’s been very consistent when it comes to swimming. She’s adamant she’s a good swimmer – until she gets in the water and then she’ll pretty much try and refuse to do anything asked of her.

She went in the swimming pool once a week for two years at her last school, but I’ve no idea what she did - she certainly didn’t learn to swim. She joined Keola’s Sunday morning swimming lessons 15 months ago and has aimed to spend most of her time faffing with her goggles and trying to tell her instructor Adam why she doesn’t need to do what he says.

The 'no I'm not actually listening' look we see quite a lot from Thalia. Picture contributedThe 'no I'm not actually listening' look we see quite a lot from Thalia. Picture contributed

Luckily he is wise to her delaying tactics and keeps her moving.

Asked to practise something and sloth-like Thalia appears. She is moving so is technically doing as asked, but each arm lift or leg kick is so prolonged it’s painful to watch. She won’t put her face in the water, won’t push off from the side, puts her feet down whenever she can get away with it, won’t jump in on her own and prefers to chat rather than listen.

I’m trying to be patient; it took me well over a year to learn to swim and I was trying, I was just a bit scared and didn’t seem to have the co-ordination. Thalia doesn’t seem scared; she just doesn’t seem bothered about swimming. While I point out all the things she could do if she swam – have a swimming party, go to the fun inflatable sessions, go swimming with her friends, learn to dive; instructor Adam keeps plugging away getting her to work at the different strokes.

But a couple of younger girls have joined her group, and they don’t need Adam with one hand on their float and another under their tummy to keep them afloat. They’re just about self powered with their floats – and don’t try and tell Adam that their unique way of moving is better than his coaching.

Like this little boy, the other girls in Thalia's group are self propelled with their floats. Picture Getty ImagesLike this little boy, the other girls in Thalia's group are self propelled with their floats. Picture Getty Images

Thalia’s been pointedly ignoring the girls, but hearing Adam praise them and then tell her, after a particularly frustrating session when she was moving so slowly it was almost meditational, that she could try harder, has possibly been a wake up call.

Next session there’s no sign of sloth-world Thalia, dreamily watching drips fall off her hand. She’s kicking and splashing and even appears to be listening a bit.

Then as they head towards the steps to get out, she swims perfectly across the pool. Her arms are moving, her legs are moving, she’s co-ordinated, not touching the bottom and her face is almost near the water.

I look at her in delighted amazement. Adam does the same. All this time and she’s been able to swim?

“Do that again,” he says, beaming.

She won’t.

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