We have just finished a holiday short-course of that great middle-class tradition - swimming lessons. We are late starters by some standards - at 7 and 5 Isabelle and Aidan are in their first class (although Isabelle has done a few lessons through school). Both were assessed as being in the absolute beginners class. There were no lessons at our local pool these holidays, so we went across town to a bigger pool.
The children happily hopped into the water for their first lesson. The instructor stood in the main part of the pool and asked them to float out to her. Float! Isabelle pushed off from the side....and floated! She actually floated! All the way over to the instructor, quite confidently. I was so proud - I never knew she could do that. And then it was Aidan's turn. I saw a bit of fear in his face (the water where the instructor was was well over his head). But he took a step out into the unknown, pushed off....and sank. He was quickly lifted out and up onto the platform, no worse for wear. Again I was proud - my brave boy!
It was immediately apparent that despite being assessed as absolute beginners, Isabelle's age and those few lessons at school meant she was some steps above Aidan. Fortunately for us, the class was small and instructors were readily available. So for most of the week, Aidan had one-on-one attention, while Isabelle shared another instructor with one other girl. (Excellent value for money for us!). Isabelle's greater maturity worked in her favour too - it's easier to focus when you're a bit older. (At one stage, the instructor said to Aidan to have straight arms, not "chicken arms" - that is, arms bent at the elbow. So for the next minute, the girls watched the instructor carefully as she demonstrated the strokes, while Aidan did the chicken dance).
They had fun. They both grew in confidence. By the end of the week, Isabelle was floating by herself, kicking, rotating her arms and starting to learn to breathe. She was actually swimming! Aidan was very happy dunking his head under the water, was starting to learn to rotate his arms, and was able to float by himself for a few seconds.
My kids were awesome! One because she could...and one because he couldn't, but did it anyway.