Date: Mar 7th 2014 2:23p.m.
Contributed by: chelseastone

My son recently turned 1, and, right on time, he taught himself to walk. Now he can’t be stopped. We thought swim class would help burn off some of this energy, so we enrolled him in a weekly Water Babies session, run by Shanghai’s Sport for Life, a foreign-owned sports coaching company.


Located in Hongqiao’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, where the SUV-style strollers parked at the pool put our RMB200 umbrella-stroller to shame, we considered the grueling one-hour commute from central Shanghai a worthwhile investment.


With six mommies in Class 1 (10AM) and two daddies and two mommies in Class 2 (10:30AM), our children played off of each other’s energy. Camaraderie and even competitiveness is innate behavior, and we were glad for the interaction.


Laura from Scotland, our ever-buoyant swim coach, explained that this course would be about confidence-building vis-à-vis games, songs and activities, rather than just literally throwing our kids in at the deep end.


At first the lessons were fun and productive. Our son seemed quite comfortable in the water, especially receptive to songs and gentle splashing.


Over the course of 10 weeks, however, he grew increasingly fussy, squirming uncomfortably during the exercises, and outright crying when being dunked or getting a little water on his face. I’m pretty sure it was just him, because all the other aqua babies seemed to be going through the motions with relative submissiveness.


Part of the issue may have been the pool itself, which according to local government regulations was not allowed to be heated, even in the winter; despite the wetsuit we bought for him, my boy’s teeth were shivering uncontrollably!


I also couldn’t help but wonder at what point we’d be throwing our kids in to “sink or swim” like ...

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