Two weeks ago, we had a kid who would sometimes duck his head underwater for a split second, but who mostly was deeply and firmly attached to his "noodle."
We didn't sign him up for lessons during camp, because at the time we were making those decisions (February or some such), it was impossible to imagine where he might be once July rolled around.
Then our friend and personal swim coach Jenny recommended at least a few one-on-one lessons from someone really good, and we called one of the lifeguards at our pool who has also been giving lessons on the side (literally and figuratively) for the past three summers.
D was extremely excited about his lesson, especially when he learned that his teacher would be a lifeguard (!).
And last Tuesday, he and E worked together for about a half hour. We hung back, out of earshot (in fact I swam laps for a good chunk of the time), but he seemed very happy throughout.
Still loved his noodle.
Then yesterday, seemingly out of the blue, D decided to try to swim back to the steps from where we'd been playing, without his noodle.
"Sure, buddy," I said, "and I can give you a belly boost," because that's what we'd been doing.
"No, I'm fine," he said in a studiedly casual tone. And then he swam.
It pretty much felt like a miracle. And it still does. You should see him go! The best part, I think, is that he really understands how all those little steps he took added up to this unbelievably cool thing. Playing in the ocean w/ JT, in Rainbow Lake with Aunt Chelle, and in Broadmead Pool with us set the stage. Half an hour of confidence-building encouragement from a trained professional was all he needed to make that final leap. I think his smile muscles are probably almost as tired as his arms and legs.