Learning how to swim is an important thing. You never know when you might end up in the water, struggling for survival. Swimming desperately so that you don't sink down below the waves to your cold grave. A bit of a morbid image, but it does get the point across that one should learn how to swim. In many countries it is common for young children to attend swimming lessons and learn this very important skill. At the local pool in Lębork there are swim lessons offered to children of various ages. One recent Saturday I went to the pool. (That's right, your poor English teacher has a life outside of teaching, strange as that may seem) I went to the pool in the mid-morning, I did not know that this was the typical time for children's swimming lessons. Thus, at the pool it was myself, some swim instructors, and many many children. This was not the best situation for my own personal swimming, but I was able to observe some interesting teaching methods.
The instructors at the swimming pool had a certain style of teaching that I rather liked. First of all, they were strict and they allowed no back-sass from the children. It seemed like none of the instructors really cared if the kids wanted to swim or not. When they said 'enter the water' the kids entered the water. If there were some kids who did not want to enter the water the instructors gave them the proper encouragement to get their little behinds in the water and stop complaining! This may seem rather harsh, but I think with kids and water you need to have a firm hand because it is natural to fear water and everyone needs to overcome this fear. It is better to do this when you are a child and not have to deal with it when you are an adult. So, the kids entered into the pool when they were told. However, once in the water I observed some funny instruction as well. The children had to swim laps and practice the different styles of strokes. For example the front crawl, the back stroke, the breast stroke, and so on. What was very funny to me was that the instructors provided encouragement from the pool deck, but they also had a long metal pole. With this pole they would encourage the kids to swim in a certain way. If, for example, a child's leg was not kicking properly, then the instructor would use the pole to help guide the leg into the proper position. I am sure this is very helpful, but I could not help but laugh at this because the poor kids seemed like cattle being poked and prodded into the proper position. I think it is a good idea because it helps the kids learn the proper technique. However, I do feel kind of bad for them as well. It is hard enough to swim, let alone swim in a large group of other children, and on top of this to also have some instructor jabbing you with a longe pole! This all just seems like too much. Still, I laughed at the poor children's' expense because the instructor jabbing them with the long metal pole made for a funny sight.
Now, you may think that I am being too brutal to these poor kids, but I had my own troubles when I was a young child learning to swim. First of all, we did not have a pool near us, so we had to learn how to swim in a lake. The lake water was not very clean, and later on we found out that this was because of an invasive plant that made the water stink quite a lot. We also had to learn how to dive into the water head-first. This was the hardest part of swim lessons for me. My instructor tried various techniques to try and get me to dive properly. This varied from having me try different positions to them using their hands to guide/throw/push me into the water. Being thrown in head-first and causing a great splash was the most humiliating part of the lessons for me. So, I can empathize with these poor kids who have to swim at Lębork. They get jabbed with a long metal pole, and I was thrown into the water. I guess swimming lessons can be hard no matter where you are in the world.
Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan David was raised by his parents with his two sisters and brother.