As a child, I was incredibly confident around water. I had no fears, feeling like I was always safe and constantly protected. I had the good fortune of all of my babysitters being lifeguards at the pool. I had complete confidence that they would get me when I jumped into the deep end and would sink to the bottom. I was always saved and when asked why I jumped I would respond, “I am a mermaid”. This happened many times giving me a false sense of security. In reality, I could have found myself in an unsafe situation around water without lifeguards to pull me off the bottom each time.
In swimming it is critical to have both confidence and skill. My story goes to show how dangerous it is to have confidence around water with no skill to support it. The opposite is unwise also; some children have the skill, but lack the confidence to use it after going through swim lessons with unqualified instructors. These skills have no value if a child is not given the confidence to use them. Swim programs that provide skill, yet tear down confidence and replace it with fear are even worse. They push children so hard that although eventually they can swim, they are also terrified of the water; a feeling that can last a lifetime if never met with a patient and compassionate instructor. Skill and confidence are equally important around water, both are required to become a safe swimmer.
As for my story, it turned out well. My mother soon realized it would probably be a good idea to put me in swim lessons. I was incredibly eager to be in the water and I was blessed with great instructors, so I soon had the skills to back up my confidence. Before long, I was competing in the annual local swim meets and my favorite part of the pool was the deep end. If you have a child that is either not confident or not skillful, they will have issues in the water. It is necessary to have both in order to be safe around water, so make sure to find a great swim instructor that teaches a love of safe swimming.