Archived Story

The thrill of victory … at swim lessons

Published 8:55am Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Column: Pothole Prairie

Forrest is taking swim lessons this week and last. My son is 5 and has been part fish since about age 2. That’s the age I first took him to the city’s fantastic pool.

That first time he was a little bit hesitant about getting too wet, but he splashed around in the shallow end of the kiddy pool. The second time he was all about enjoying life at the pool, and we have had blasts there ever since.

Since then, we have made frequent summer visits to pools, and he makes strides every time. Going under water. Trusting me as I had him in deeper water. Learning to kick while I held him. Jumping off the side.

This summer, the strides are huge! At Northwood, he learned to jump farther than ever. He even learned to swim for about eight to 10 feet after the jump before losing momentum. He also went down the slide in Northwood, but he would only do it with Daddy and no one else.

You should see Forrest when he is at home in the bathtub. Well, he probably wouldn’t want you to see him naked, so let me rephrase that. Let me tell you about his bathtub time.

Forrest likes to swim back and forth in the tub, splashing water all over the room.  The kid has long legs that get longer every day, yet he finds the room in a tub to swim. Forget bubbles and toys. He likes the 1.5-meter freestyle. Did Michael Phelps’ parents deal with this issue?

The lifeguards at the Albert Lea pool have shown Forrest how to learn more new things in just one week. He is in the Level 1 class. At the end of each class, they jump off the diving board holding a foam noodle.

On the first day, Forrest was going to jump in, then asked to be lowered. On the second day, he was brave and just jumped in without being lowered or caught. And he did it again. So that became no problem for him each of the following days.

On the fourth day, however, they wore life jackets instead of holding onto noodles. And Forrest dived into the pool for the first time ever. By dive, I mean, he went head first. Wow!

He wasn’t asked to. No one suggested it. He saw an older kid on the other diving board do it, so he just did it, too. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to witness that.

He and I have been avidly watching the Olympics and, in particular, the swimmers. We cannot stay up late enough to watch all of NBC’s delayed broadcast, so in the morning we grab the iPad, look up the headlines, then watch videos of the highlights on NBC’s app for the Olympics. Yes, NBC Sports has an app just for the Olympics. My suggestion: Download it.

In fact, it’s not me asking Forrest to watch the Olympics. It is Forrest who keeps wanting to join me in watching the Olympics. Before this, he hadn’t really been too enthralled with TV sports. Sure, he’d watch the Vikings for a spell, but soon he would be interested in his toys, kid programs or playing with neighbor boys.

Of all the Olympic sports, it’s clear the one he likes to watch the most is swimming.

Forrest enters kindergarten this fall. Can you believe it? I don’t presume to know which sports he should or shouldn’t go into, but as a father, one cannot help but speculate. I am quite glad we reside in a school district that has a high school swimming team. I am quite impressed with all the trophies the swimming team has in the trophy case.

Swim lessons last week also taught Forrest how to front float, back float, roll over and other moves. I wonder what other great moments await Forrest this week.


Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom’s column appears every Tuesday.