Monday, July 7, 2014

Ava's 1st Swim Lesson 7.7.14

Today was a big accomplishment for  me  Ava! 
Ok, the truth is, I have been having nightmares about Ava falling into pools, canals, name it. 
Recently, the news has been filled with toddler drownings all over South Florida. We are surrounded by water down here! 
My in-laws' home has a pool as well as the intracoastal in their backyard, our home has a lake right outside our back porch, and pretty much every other birthday party is a pool party down here. 
I knew it was time when I heard about little James. He is a little boy down here that is currently fighting for his life after a near drowning incident. You may have seen support for him all over Facebook with the Ninja Turtles pictures. He is a big Ninja Turtles fan. 
My anxiety about the drowning was just increasing as well as my other concerns about which swimming lessons were the best for Ava. 
During Mommy&Me classes several months ago, we had a very nice lady come and speak about ISR classes for babies and Mark and I thought we would go with that. They were going to be 10min a day for 6 weeks... Something was just not sitting well with me apparently because I wasn't booking those lessons. I try to always listen to my gut feeling and so I waited and kept researching. 

 Later on, as time passed, I decided I wanted more of a traditional swim lesson with Ava being more familiar with swimming rather then learning to flip, float, and wait for help as ISR teaches little ones to do. I think ISR is great for infants, but now that Ava is 1 1/2, I wanted her to begin something that seemed more age appropriate. (At the end of the day, each parent has to do with they feel is best for their child. For Ava, these classes are what we feel are best for her at this age.) 

So my search of finding a good swimming instructor was not very fun. I am on 2 "mom groups" on Facebook. They have thousands of local moms in them and as you can imagine, a lot of differing opinions - horror stories - and recommendations. 

After reading a million and one stories, I got a call from my mom about Jackie Nelson Doyle. Jackie was going to be instructing a good friend of ours' nephew. My mom and his aunt are long time friends and this is who told my mom about Jackie Nelson Doyle and the Nelson family's history in swimming lessons. Her friend's nephew would be flying down from his home in NYC to spend the week with her and attend lessons with Jackie.

I knew I couldn't put it off any longer and doing so would just be irresponsible as a parent. As Ava gets older, she is getting A LOT stronger. Opening doors and pushing heavy ones open. Watching this daily, my anxiety was growing in knowing that she is very capable of getting outside within the blink of an eye. All parents and family members watch their little ones as best as they can, but mistakes happen and so do accidents. Fatal ones. 

I trust the family very much (and their research) that gave us the recommendation and decided we would go with Jackie Nelson Doyle as well. 
She has been instructing for 35 years and is a highly referred swimming instructor down here. (Her father was an US Olympic Swim Coach!) 

So after my initial phone call to Jackie, our swim lessons were scheduled for 2 weeks later.  When I told my mother-in-law about who we chose, she reminded me that Jackie was the one who taught Ava's two uncles, Tommy(13) & Luke (11), to swim when they were Ava's age! Jackie came to their home and taught them how to swim in their pool. I felt 100000% better about my decision after that. Tommy & Luke are amazing swimmers!
Here is Ava's uncle (and Godfather) Tommy (13) recently during a swim meet. 

 I then started to plan on having Jackie come back to my mother in law's pool to teach Ava there as we were staying there the following week while they were out of town. Unfortunately, she didn't have the availability for that week. It ended up working out well though because the lessons are still private lessons and only about 5 min away from our home. 

So here are some pictures from this morning's 1st swim lesson! (I was a nervous wreck... not because I was questioning our instructor or anything like that but for other reasons. Lately, I have been reading about dry drowning incidents and getting nervous about that whole other risk. Either way, the risk of drowning far outweighs the risk of dry drowning. Jackie ended up talking to me about dry drowning and calmed my nerves once we were there.) 

Ava was excited to put on her bathing suit as she loves going to the pool. 
More excited about this book than to smile for mommy. She wouldn't even let me take a photo of her before we got in the car because she was so excited to go out the car. 

Meeting and getting to know Mrs. Jackie.

Today's 1st lesson was about getting to know each other and having fun. I was allowed to stay close by and have Ava see me there. Tomorrow, I will still be close by but will hide out. Now that Ava is comfortable with Jackie and has fun with her, I can let her focus on her swimming lessons and not me in the corner taking photos. I was really hesitant about having to leave Ava but feel better about still being able to watch her (just not be seen by her). As long as I am allowed to watch, I am happy. 

Singing songs. 
Ava was thrilled to see her buddy, Elmo, there! She kept shouting, "Elllmooo!"

Learning how to kick, kick, kick

Floating along...and more kicking

Elmo cheering Ava on

Ava did extremely well for her 1st swim lesson. I was very impressed with her comfort level with Jackie and her ability to hold onto the wall by herself so quickly. Tomorrow is a much tougher day... Ava will learn how to go under the water and probably not be too happy about possibly swallowing a little water in the process. 
I will probably be a little anxious watching her cry and call for me, but I know that Jackie knows what she's doing. In the end, Ava is going to love swimming around all on her own. She already loves being in the pool and this will give her even more independence. I can't wait to see how she is doing on Friday, her final lesson on Day 5.
I'll post again and let you know how it goes. 

After Ava wakes from her nap, I will be taking her to our pool to go over some of the things that she learned today. 

Happy Monday, everyone! 



  1. Ava will be fine. Ray Jr. had swimming lessons at two and I taught Kenny myself. It is so much better to teach them when they are young. Ray and Kenny were both fish. Jackie looks like a wonderful instructor. So proud of you. It is hard to let go of our babies. When it comes to safety it is full throttle. You are doing the right thing and you are a wonderful mom.

    1. Thank you so much for those kind words. I really appreciate it! As a mom, I know that you understand exactly how I am feeling right now. I know it is for the best, and that she will be a little fish before I know it. Thank you again.

  2. I am so glad someone else shares my anxiety with drowning and dry drowning! It is so scary!!! Sounds like your instructor is awesome. Can't wait to hear how rest of lessons go!

    1. Oh I certainly do, Carol! haha You're is so so scary! I can only do what is best and watch for signs of DD in the future. At the end of the day, it is EXTREMELY rare and we really have to be more concerned with wet drowning.
      I'll keep you posted on lessons! Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. I was about to freak when I saw you write ISR, so glad you didn't do that. I am anti ISR ha! Glad she had a great first day!!:)

    1. Hahah! Yep...well apparently I wasn't to fond of it either since my trusty 'ole gut told me NO. Happy that we see eye to eye...again! ha

  4. Go Ava!! Love the pics! I alternate the kids btwn gymnastics and swimming. It is nerve wracking living down here with all if the water. I actually just found a swim school by the house that has an indoor pool which I may try. I like that weather never effects the classes.
    Btw -- we should so meet at a park one day with the kids!

    1. We should totally meet up! (today's lesson went a bit better...less crying. Phew!!!) I hope to have full post on friday about the whole week's lesson :)


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