That Time I Tried The Rec Club Swim Classes


We've been a Little Fishes family since my daughter was 10 months old. (Ah, those were the so quiet, good old days. Before temper tantrums and talking in general...) My husband and I made the decision to sign her up for Little Fishes so we could be more comfortable bringing her in the water during our first family vacation to the beach. After only a few classes we could tell she loved her coach and attending classes, and we were really impressed with the amount of progress she'd made so quickly, not to mention the shock and awe when showing off how our bitty baby could swim under water. Before she could speak we would pull up to the facility and her face would light up, and after a couple of months when she'd started talking (oh, the talking that never ceases) she would break out in a chorus of "yeah's" that would continue until she stepped in the water. And that excitement hasn't abated in the almost 2.5 years since we've been attending.

When our second little one arrived about a year ago, whom we lovingly call The Sequel, we knew some changes to our schedule were needed. And oh my goodness the money we were spending for nursery school, Spanish, dance, gym, swimming, and soccer! All that time and money for a two-year-old who hypothetically should have been able to have fun in a paper bag. And, with a new baby, doubling those fees was daunting.

We made the choice to scale back the number of activities my daughter participated in but kept her in Little Fishes, and decided to try a local rec club's swim classes for The Sequel knowing swim classes were a necessity before his first beach vacation. The classes at the rec club were free with our membership, and we could walk to the facility. Signing up cut some time out of my role as taxi driver, and my husband, who may or may not have been accused of throwing nickels like they are manhole covers, was much happier with the cost.

It only took one class at the rec club and we knew we had made a mistake by trying to 'see other people.' Knowing it was a public locker room we got ready at home and showed up for our class. When we walked into the pool I noticed that though we'd chosen a class where the age level was appropriate for our then six-month-old, he was the youngest child in the class by at least a year. And I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was to see that there were about 10 kids in the pool, some with two parents in the water, and only one instructor. That made for a crowded space but I thought I'm just used to the luxury of small, developmentally appropriate classes. I'd been spoiled, and needed to give it a fair shake.

Then the class started.

The Sequel and I went through all of the activities, but the instructor didn't come by to assist us once, instead focusing her attention on the many older children and their skill building. That could have been an instructor fluke, so, ever the optimist, I let that go. When the class disbanded, we weren't sure if it was dismissed or what, but we got out of the water, our hair and skin coated in chlorination. I realized that not a single child had gone under water - the one skill that I felt was essential, and perhaps the biggest safety skill, had not even been addressed with even the older children! The focus of the class had been teaching them games to play with balls and some light floating skills. Having watched my daughter at eighteen months recover like a champ after a slip on the stairs of the pool because she'd been taught to hold her breath under water so young, I knew this wasn't a good fit for what we needed. And I hadn't even made it to the locker room yet.

It was still chilly out, so I wrapped my son and I in a towel and went in to the family locker room to get changed before heading home. And it was then that I knew we could never go back, and how much we missed Little Fishes. While the moms were changing there were several children running around the space as their mothers either struggled to finish dressing them, and some parents had just given up the ghost, allowing their making new friends while I was trying to modestly tug my son and I into our street clothes. I'm just going to say I've never appreciated the private changing rooms at Little Fishes more, and I am not sure when making friends in a locker room is ever appropriate...

About an hour later, as my son's skin reddened from the chemicals in the water, I called Little Fishes with offers of roses, chocolate, and a promise I would never break up with them again. It wasn't just that Little Fishes had spoiled us, it was a realization that you get what you pay for. And when it comes to water safety that is a gamble I'd rather not take. So, now both children are in Little Fishes. We've been lucky to find back-to-back classes that work with our schedule, so the Mom Taxi Service get a little more breathing room. After a few weeks back home at Little Fishes I now have two children who love the water and who can confidently enjoy family vacations safely, and I could never again trade the classes that are personalized and focused on essential water skill building.

By Melody Meiners.