We have been in Italy for two months; when we arrived on 15 June, the swimming pools here were closed, (it being too cold at 25 degrees centigrade for the Italians to swim). When they did open, la Principessa threw herself kamikaze into the ‘big pool’ while H. and P. hovered nervously in the shallow pool, the latter wearing arm bands and both clutching their support networks of noodles and floats.
Initially, I enquired about swimming lessons, thinking that we should nail the swimming lark once and for all, with some Italian tossed in for good measure. Fairly exhausted, however, by my Negotiations with Franco on the entry fee and fully fatigued by the immense heat, I didn’t muster the strength in the first few weeks to discuss lessons, when they might be held and how much they would cost. What fortuitous and financially prudent laziness this proved to be…
… For, after a week or so, H. summoned the courage to swim with her noodle in the big pool; P. followed soon after, but only if accompanied by either Tom or me. Since then, both children have gone from strength to strength, working out for themselves what they want to do, how and when… but in each case spurred on by something – or someone – other than water antics and a need to cool off: H. made remarkable leaps (quite literally) soon after befriending the youthful lifeguard at the local pool. After many smiles and much ciao-ing, H. made him a picture and things soon progressed to ‘guarda me in piscina’. My 7-going-on-17 year old was clearly set to impress: the noodle was abandoned and H. started jumping from the pool edge and then from the diving board. In seven weeks of enjoyment, fun and H. doing things her way, we have achieved more than we have in seven years of swimming lessons. Swimming: tick.
As for P., things were progressing more slowly until we met ‘E’. E. is one of the lovely twin daughters of some friends out here, some seven years P.’s senior. A day playing at E.’s house in their delightful pool saw P. move from noodle and arm bands, never straying far from the steps, to P. senza-noodle jumping from the side of the pool and well out of his depth in order to be near E., his leaps accompanied by requests to ‘be partners with E.’ in the water games we were playing. We owe much gratitude to Cupid’s fleet arrow – this day saw the start of a far more confident P., who now swims in the big pool without arm bands, albeit quite close to the security of the wall.
I would not have believed, however, that either child would have had the confidence for this:
We found this new freshwater swimming spot, icy cold and complete with fish, tadpoles and frogs. Tom, of course, jumped straight in from the stone platform you can see in the picture, which impressed H. and P. hugely. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it’s probably about seven foot above the water level. The measure of their water confidence was sealed when both children proceeded to follow suit: P. skirted about on the edge for a while and initially seemed to decide it would be too much. H. took up the challenge, jumped and swam to shore. As a second child myself, I could read P.’s mind clearly – anything you can do, I am going to have a good shot at too – and he was in. Swimming: double tick.