Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Water Babies

Today's Stats: 500 metre swim, 16mins. Weight 118lbs, BMI 22.3

I was back in the pool on Monday, after an absence of four months. Hardly surprising, then, that at the end of lap three, my shoulders were aching very badly. The ache turned to real pain and, by the end of lap five, I decided to call it a day when I'd swum for ten minutes. Ten minutes came and went and I hadn't  noticed the pain easing down to nothing, because I was counting laps and trying to avoid collisions with other swimmers. At the end of lap 20, I checked the clock - 16minutes. I decided not to push my luck and headed for the shower. Crossing the 'family swim lane' I stopped to speak to a young couple who were introducing their four month old daughter to the joys of swimming. It took me back over 30 years to the days I took my own daughter into my school's swimming pool because babies weren't allowed in public pools back then.

It was thrilling to watch The Daughter (not her in the picture although there is one on the dining room wall of her 'swimming' with her Dad at about 18 months old)  jump from the diving board into the deep end where we were waiting for her. Watching her 'swim' under water was amazing - eyes wide open, big grin on her face.

Apparently, until about nine months old, babies have a gag reflex that blocks off their windpipe as soon as they are under water, allowing them to instinctively hold their breath.

Back in the 'dark ages' of the 1970s, teaching your baby to swim was very much a DIY affair and finding a public pool that allowed babies in was extremely rare. Now there are special classes  all over the country encouraging parents to take their babies into the water as soon as possible after birth.