Mum, Mum, Your Hair is Turning Green!

6 Mar

Z jumping into a poolWhen does a child count as a swimmer?

I guess the baseline test is chuck them in and see if they sink or not. This is how swimming was “taught” a generation ago, with a teacher on hand to haul the sinkers off the bottom with a long pole.

Z’s passed this for some time, albeit long after he achieved his first swimming certificate. Ten metres!!! Go figure.

As with a lot of skinny kids, floating does not come naturally, due to low body-fat and the associated tendency to sink. But he’s suddenly become completely fluent in the water.

In Thailand, when we were snorkelling (not an unmitigated success, it has to be said, due to some truly gigantic sea urchins, enlarged by the masks, and some weird idea of his about how fast they move), he’d notice he was out of his depth every so often, panic and head for shore.

But in Mui Ne something just clicked. He’d happily jump, dive, bomb, swim underwater and above water, in the certain knowledge that he’d be able to make his way around. It’s confidence, essentially, that takes you to the next level. And there’s a wonderful, uncomplicated joy at simply jumping in.

Though his mode of getting around is pretty odd. At school they are taught to swim with their faces in the water, or so he says.

So he perambulates the pool face-down, in the sort of flat breaststroke most of us use underwater, interspersed with great gulping gasps for air. There’s the beginnings of freestyle developing, too.

Swimming is, in fact, on our homeschooling curriculum for the year. Which would be easier if I could swim a decent freestyle. So we’ll have to start with breaststroke, backstroke, sculling and swan dives, which means, I guess, at least until he sees his dad in Oz, he’ll be swimming like a girl.

Pools come relatively cheap in Vietnam. In Hue we’re staying at a place called Dong Tam, paying $12 for a decent two-double-bed-room with Western en suite, TV, A/C et al.

This will not be the case elsewhere on our route. In Laos, we’ll be back in rivers, Cambodia style.

And, god only knows what they put into the pools round here, but my hair is turning green. Or was. It’s orange now, Z says. It was light brown earlier. Time to dig out the scissors, I suppose.

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