“Quick, put my suncream on please!” says Ned as we dump our stuff on the sand. He rubs it in as quickly as possible before running down to the water’s edge, and throwing himself headlong into the crashing surf. The waves are as tall as a grown man, the white foam goes into his eyes, ears, nose and mouth as they break over his head, and as each one recedes, he emerges grinning, his long fringe plastered to his forehead. It’s like a Guiness advert, but without the galloping horses, or the dramatic soundtrack, and it’s not in black and white, but you get the idea. He is at one with the waves.
It’s a far cry from the timid boy who sat on the top step of the swimming pool in California, arm bands firmly in place, not daring to go out of his depth without his arms firmly clamped around an adult’s neck.
All three have made huge improvements in the water. The elder two are now swimming properly, not very stylishly, but they can get from one side of the pool to the other and they are expert snorkellers. Dickon wouldn’t go in the water at all the first few weeks for fear of drowning, now he’ll happily bob about, out of his depth with armbands on, and yells “I’m a surf dude” as he ducks enthusiastically under waves at the beach.
There’s no doubt that the amount of time we’ve spent in the water helps. Some weeks we’ve swum every day and I don’t think a whole week has gone by since we left home when we haven’t swum at all. The fact that it’s always warm and sunny must also help. It’s a far cry from Eve’s school swimming lessons of last winter, when they’d return shivering and bedraggled, after spending all of ten minutes actually in the pool.
I hope over the next six months they’ll continue to improve and become really confident swimmers. I also hope that their emerging love of the water will continue to grow and remain with them for the rest of their lives.