Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y ~ Yxsjön: Learning to Swim #atozchallenge

All Aboard! "It's Very Swedish..." a train on a cultural journey through Sweden, exploring the differences big and small between American and Swedish culture.

As I recall from my childhood, if you wanted to learn to swim in Sweden, it was going to be in a lake. Pools are rare.  Lakes are everywhere.

The Swede taught me to swim in Yxsjön.  I'm behind DataBoy (censored for American audiences), and Swissie is next to me.  We're getting used to the cold water...slowly...

Swedish kids learn breaststroke, but not with the face in the water on every stroke like you see in competitions here.  The legs also do something different, it's not the kick of "the crawl" but more of a scissor-frog motion.  If I have time, I'll look for a video.

The point is that it's fairly easy to learn, and kids are swimming pretty quickly.  There are lessons of course, and I'd have my private lesson from my dad, while over by the dock, the other kids had to do all kinds of repetitive boring drills.

The Swede, ever the teacher (he didn't work for Volvo until we moved here) did give me a final exam.  I remember I was to swim as far as I could next to the dock where the water was deep enough that I could not stand, but not so deep as to be scary.  When I got tired, I was to grab the dock and be graded.

I remember being paid about the equivalent of $.25 for each meter I swam.  I was about one or two meter from the end of the dock, which was 25 meters long, when I grabbed the edge.  He pulled me out, held my hand, I can see myself in my white and green horizontally striped suit and remember being a little breathless and excited to learn I'd earned about $5. That was a LOT of money! I could swim!

When it came time to teach my own kids how to swim, I did what The Swede did and taught them myself.  We were visiting friends in Texas, the same friends who came up with the phrase for this "It's Very Swedish..." series, the summer they were probably 4 and 7 or close to that.  

They had one of those above ground HUGE swimming pools with plenty of room to actually swim, so I just taught hers too. Wanna know a good trick?  Have them put crocs (the shoes, for those of you who aren't familiar with this invention, born right here in my small Colorado town!) on their hands.  It helps them float a little more, and gives them confidence.

I think if I'd have had crocs to learn with, The Swede would have been out a lot more money ;-)

Do you know how to swim? How did you learn? Did you teach your kids? Feel free to share my croc idea. I didn't have it copyrighted...

~Tina, who now knows more than the breaststroke, but canNOT do the butterfly...at ALL

©2014 All Rights Reserved (the post, not the croc-on-hands-learn-to-swim-idea)
Photo credit: Momarazzi


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina - good for your dad teaching you that way ... Encouraging to know he was always there for you. Love name of the lake Yxsjon ... sand teaching your own kids that way too ... Interesting about the crocs though - fun post to read ... I guess we had lessons at a local pool, I never became a very good swimmer - but can cope .. Cheers Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

I learnt the boring way too... at school. Great that you had all those lakes! Mind you, we had to dive to the bottom of the pool to pick up a plastic brick while wearing pyjamas, so that was quite a challenge. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't remember lessons, so I guess I just learned by trying. Maybe I imitated my older brother.

Elsie Amata said...

Funny how different nudity is here and in other countries. I remember going to the pool in Germany and it was not a big deal.

I had a pool growing up so I learned to swim in my pool and in the ocean. I'm a tadpole in my alternate life.

AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

JoJo said...

I took swimming lessons in ponds here on the Cape when I was a kid. I think I had at least 3-4 summer sessions of them. One instructor told my parents I had the makings of an Olympic swimmer. I was placed in year round lessons at a hotel pool but I didn't want to be forced to compete so I refused to learn how to dive. I really never did learn. My aunt & uncle put in a pool in 1973 and I believe that was the first summer I didn't take lessons. But knowing how to swim is crucial in a place like Cape Cod with all the ocean beaches and ponds.

CA Heaven said...

I learnt to swim when I was 7-8 years old. I got the "Simborgarmärket" in Alidebergsbadet in Borås the first time i swam 200m at the age of 10yo. My kids are fairly good swimmers. They don't swim very much, they rather jump from the diving tower, but at least they're able to get back on dry land afterwards >:)

Cold As Heaven

Jo said...

I remember being taught by an instructor at a public pool (in Rochester, Kent for the Anglos). At a later date my father tried to teach me to dive off the side of the boat. Nearly drowned myself by breathing underwater. Never did learn.

The crocs idea is a good one.

cleemckenzie said...

How cold was it in those lakes?

I learned to swim before I remember learning anything. And I think it involved getting knocked off my feet by a wave.

Have enjoyed your posts during this A to Z. I know very little about Sweden, but you've enlightened me a lot.

Anonymous said...

For anyone growing up in southern California, swimming is about as necessary as walking. I spent my childhood (from age two) in lessons, was certified in lifesaving by age 12, and also taught my kids to swim. I’m more comfortable in the water than I am on land. We're like a little school of fish. :)

But I still have never liked lake swimming. All that ooze! :)

Mason Canyon said...

I can't swim very good. Maybe I need to try the croc technique.

Andrew Leon said...

When I was 3 or 4, my uncle swam me out in a lake to the depth markers and threw me in. It's amazing I ever went back out in the water after that.

Julie Jordan Scott said...

I learned on vacations, you know - the only time I had access consistently to a pool was when we would drive all day and then get an hour at the motel pool before getting a cheap dinner and flopping into bed! Anyway - I don't even remember being taught, I just remember doing it. Now that I realize it, that is sort of how I've done my whole life with everything.

My kids all went to parks and rec classes. My eldest earned a Nintendo back in the early days (it was 1990 or 91 I think) and we thought it was so high tech. hahahahahahaha!)

Thanks for the memories!!

Julie Jordan Scott
The Bold Writer from A to Z

Patricia Lynne said...

I don't remember when I learned out to swim, but I do remember a moment, where I was doing the doggie paddle and I was swimming on my own for the first time and it was quite exciting. Something I'll never forget even if I can't remember anything else about that day.

~Patricia Lynne~
Story Dam
Patricia Lynne, YA Author

debi o'neille said...

Nice post; very interesting. My memories of swimming lessons are not so fun, so I'll pass on sharing them. :-?)
I'm a fellow A to Z'er and just stopped by to say hi. Glad to follow...
Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

In Michigan, you're never more than 50 miles from a lake, and of course there's Lake Michigan with gorgeous sand dunes. So we took to water like sun burn on buns!!

Mary said...

Great idea about the crocs on the hands! I thought the breaststroke was done with the frog-kick...wonder when they changed that!