Anyone who walked into the pool area of the Cass County YMCA on Wednesday night would have noticed the smell of chlorine and water wafting over the edge of the pool and the tile floor. But they may have been surprised to find 19 babies floating underwater in their parents’ arms.
Babies and their parents attended the YMCA’s Parent-Tot Swim Class. This class teaches parents how to swim with their baby and familiarizes them with being in the pool. Held several times a year, children from 6 months to 3 years old can participate with a guardian.
“I think swimming is one of the greatest skills a child should learn,” said Cass County YMCA Aquatics Instructor Brooklyn Miller. “…Now we’re trying to get them used to the water. I know they do bath time and such, but most of them have never been in a big pool.”
The pair entered the pool minutes before class started. While waiting for instructions, the parents helped the baby grab the edge of the pool or jump off the edge into the water. These are the two skills the program is designed to teach babies: floating on their backs, breathing control, and other safety skills. If the baby feels comfortable, it is advisable to briefly submerge her head in the water at certain points.
This class is also helpful for parents as they are guided through each step of teaching their baby these skills.
“It gives me an education to know how to further teach him what to do when he goes to the pool in the summer,” said Stephanie Homeberg, who attended the class with her 1-year-old son Harland. “He really likes blowing bubbles and jumping in the water. My favorite part is watching him laugh and laugh.”
Lu Ann Schroder has been teaching aerobics at the YMCA for 42 years and now teaches parent-child swimming lessons. After attending the program with her granddaughter at her early age, she became more aware of the program. Her Ms. Schroder, who is also her third grade teacher at Landis, wanted to be more involved. She is currently leading the class.
“Of all the jobs I’ve had, this is my favorite,” Schroder said. “I think it’s really important that kids feel comfortable in the water.”
Akielah DiDomenico said her 20-month-old son, Zi-Ere, had “athlete’s foot,” so she was excited to attend class with him.
“I thought it would help to take him on something that would help him learn and understand water better,” she said. was one of the only children to jump off an edge and into the water.”
So far, Didmenico said his son has mastered finger grips, jumping, controlling his breath, and grabbing the edge of the pool. He’s still learning how to float on his back. But Didomenico said he’s starting to get it.
When Schroeder was ready to begin class, she swam to the center of the pool and turned to face everyone to get their attention.
“We all dive in together,” she said. “One, two, three, go”
The baby’s parents lifted their children out of the pool and held them while they crumpled their legs and plunged into the water. was moved slightly up and down.
One of the first exercises the group did was aimed at helping babies learn how to float on their backs. Schroeder told her parents to put their arms under her baby’s back and walk her around the pool, she encouraged the baby to kick her legs when she felt comfortable. I was.
Schroeder also encouraged parents to move the baby from side to side in the water, barely scraping the baby’s ear against the surface of the water, and walking around the pool with arms extended. After submerging in the water, it was time to sing.
Schroeder led the song, directing the movements of the parents, and they all sang “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Hokey Pokey,” and “Baby Shark.” Each song incorporated movements that parents and babies had learned and practiced in class that day.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch the dads sing,” Schroeder said. “They are really silly. We fuss over our kids as if they were in a big show.”
Big splashes were encouraged in “Hokey Pokey”. When they sang “Baby Shark,” parents hung their children in the water like real baby sharks moving across the pool.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Arlo Lebek closed his eyes and gnashed his teeth trying to imitate a shark while his father, Carl, laughed and kept him afloat. Meanwhile, Karl’s wife walked a little behind him, guiding her one-year-old son Cyrus into the water. Karl said the class has been very helpful to his family.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “Our kids are already into the water, so this reinforced that even more. I’m a big fan of it.