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Before I talk a bit about what we did this morning let me just say…

HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY ALEX!

At 2:33pm exactly a year ago, my beautiful wife delivered Alexander Edwin Lottmann into the world. It has been by far the best year of my entire life, and I am looking to the next year with  great anticipation. We celebrated with friends and family over the weekend and it was great seeing so many people come together to celebrate with us. Without our friends & family there is no way this first year could have gone so smoothly! Now on to the topic at hand… swim lessons!

When I was 2 years old my parents had me take formal swim lessons from our neighbor, a swim instructor who conveniently had a backyard pool. Alex was 7 months old when I realized a former colleague of mine, Maury McKinney, ran the only professional swimming center in Mount Washington Valley, and was well known in the guiding community as an excellent and patient teacher. When I inquired as to how old we could start Alex with swimming lessons I was surprised to hear they start at 6 months or even sooner!

“They spend their first 9 months in water. The sooner you get them back the better.” he said.

To some of my more conservative family this may sound crazy, but it really does make perfect sense. Respect for the water is important, but irrational fear is neither an effective accident prevention measure or a healthy way to experience life.

According to the CDC:

“Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates… Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects)… Research has shown that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children aged 1 to 4 years.”

We signed Alex up for the first parent/infant class that had room, which started last Monday.

Alex & Mommy all smiles

During the 45 minute class Maury McKinney offers plenty of valuable tips and advice on how to safely, and positively, introduce your infants to the water. No “toss them in” mentality here, we start with just floating on our backs (with the help of some buoyant noodles) while the infants splash and play on the surface of the water. The surface, Maury explains, is what’s important. It doesn’t matter how deep the water is, just where the surface is. It is a place to be relaxed, and to know you can come back to when ever you need to. Hearing this I knew the next 6 classes would all be worthwhile, as I focused on keeping my breathing calm.

“We are conduits to our child’s learning to swim” Maury said…

At this age it’s more about teaching the adults how to show the child how to swim. They learn from watching us. From riding on us, feeling our respiration, our heart rate, seeing our calm smiling faces… While it sounds quite “new age” it made perfect sense. Maury has developed much of his teaching style by studying how other mammals, whales, otters, etc, teach their young to swim. Skin to skin, ride along, do as I do…

Before you know it 45 minutes are over and it’s off to the shower. Alex certainly loves his time in the water, as evidenced by his reaction coming out of the water during a few beach trips over the summer. He wants to be in the water. Maybe it reminds him of the womb in someway, or is just so crazy on the senses that he can’t get enough. He definitely sleeps deeply after these swims.

As for Michelle and I we’ve realized we could enjoy our own time in the water more if we became better swimmers. It’s one thing to be able to get around in some water over your head, and quite another to watch Maury traverse the length of the pool with one kick and then keeping his body streamlined till he reached the other side. It’s great exercise, and as Michelle mentioned after her swim today she had a general sense of relaxation that she had been missing. We may be slipping back to the pool more than once a week now that the temps our keeping us out of the rivers & lakes in the area!

For more information on The White Mountain Aquatic Center please visit:

http://www.whitemountainaquatic.com/

And one last time, Happy Birthday my son!

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