Due to various commitments I have been unable to help at the special school on my normal afternoon, so I volunteered to help on a different day. The staff looked delighted and asked if I could help at the swimming session at the public baths. I asked if I was expected to get in the water and they laughed and said “yes!” I have to say, while I can swim, I’m not what you would call a strong swimmer – I swim best if I can touch the bottom and I never get my hair wet.
The afternoon arrived and I turned up nervously with my swimming things. The students were all very excited climbing into a minibus. We volunteers had to run to the swimming pool as the students got out of the bus. A bit of a hitch as the lesson before us had not yet finished, our students were expecting to swim and the energy in the reception area was difficult for them to manage.
Next up, the changing rooms: All of the students are male so we use the men’s changing area, but it still caused quite a stir as most of the carers are female and men were changing from last session. The children changed quickly and mainly independently into their swimming things. The carers, in shifts, also changed.
We then went through into the swimming pool and to my amazement all the children went happily down the steps into the water. The session was fantastic all of the children had a go at floating, kicking, putting their face in the water, blowing bubbles, splashing, laughing and generally having a good time. Even I managed to get my feet off the bottom. One of the students loved to spend all of his time under the water. He would just sink to the bottom of the pool and lie on floor face down there not moving. This made me very nervous, but the water was just too deep for me to be able to reach down and pull him up without putting my own head under.
I asked him to stay above the water. He agreed and instead he stood bent at the waist so that his head was submerged. I wonder why he enjoys this so much. Is it because you can hear nothing under the water or that everything looks different? Others love the light in the water droplets and spend much of the session sprinkling the water to catch the light. It was wonderful session, well worth getting my hair wet!