It's not so long since Thomas was nervous and clung to me in the pool, tolerating only short periods in the water. Now he wears goggles and swims over and under with true dedication and joy. I can usually manage to give him one helpful tip per week to improve his doggy paddling, bum in the air, legs splayed swimming style, but he tells me he doesn't need my help and he can do it himself. He's right, he is getting about well enough and is getting better and stronger each week.
Lady takes my advice slightly better and she swims now in a sleek, smooth manner, her long limbs pulling through the water. We raced a length last week, and she kept up with me, though I was looking backwards every second stroke to check on Duncan.
Duncan just loves it and grins the whole time we're there, even enjoying the showers after. He has me pull him as he holds a float. I try to do a life saving stroke as I drag him along but he's the wriggliest and bossiest rescue subject ever, and insists that I swim faster and go from left to right. I tell you, I certainly get a work out anyway.
One of Duncan's favourite things now is watching people go off the diving board in the adjacent diving pool, and the bigger the person, the better the splash. Last week, a very large man made him very happy by repeatedly plummeting off the board, creating gratifyingly gigantic turbulence in the pool. Duncan couldn't withhold a little shout of glee each time the big fella went off.
He emulates in his own small scale way, jumping from the poolside very carefully so as not to make a big splash or to go underwater. Sometimes he enacts a little pantomime of stretches and toe touching before he goes in, muttering the script from a relevant episode of Tommy Zoom.
At 1.20 a school group arrives and we retire to the baby pool for a few minutes to watch them. Duncan likes it when they all sit on the side splashing their legs back and forth creating lots of noise and white water. He joins in from where he sits. About thirty school children are crammed into a pool which we four usually have had to ourselves for the previous 45 minutes. Lady can't help feeling a bit sorry for them as they are restricted to a narrow strip about 10m across and must follow instructions to the letter.
Ah the delights and freedom of home education.
Smug...us? Just a bit.