Cox family swim story

My son Leo is the youngest of 4 children, and as anyone with a family understands, life is very busy! We were never a family to start our children swimming as babies, with the first 3 starting to learn when they were around 5 or 6. For Leo, being the fourth child, that stretched to the age of 8, as we were working full time, already committed to Saturday sports, and generally pretty over scheduled as it was! By this time, Leo had acquired a fear of the water, partly from the delayed start, and partly due to his older brother dunking him under the water unexpectedly when he was around 3 years old.
We of all people knew the importance of water safety. Tragically, when Leo was 3, he had a young friend the same age who drowned in a backyard pool. We know the boy’s parents, and saw the unimaginable heartache they endured, and see them endure over and over every summer when similar tragedy’s occur. These lovely parents have since set up the Adam Crouch Foundation (www.adamcrouchfoundation.org.au). Their overall goal is “to provide ongoing community education, awareness and advocacy” through their message “Save Precious lives From Drowning”.
We knew we had to get Leo into the water and learning to swim, but the catalyst for starting swimming lessons, after putting it off for many years, was when Leo was invited to a pool party at age 8, but still couldn’t swim. I didn’t want him to be embarrassed, but also thought “Leo looks like a typical Aussie kid, he looks as though he would be able to swim and people will assume he can. This could be dangerous, and we can’t put him in this situation, we have to give him this skill”! So we decided to bite the bullet and begin swimming lessons – we were determined that Leo would learn to swim.
Not game to start with a group lesson, we booked a lesson for just Leo and his brother Henry, as Henry could already swim and may be able to provide some moral support to his brother. But it was not to be that easy…….. Leo screamed the place down, with other lessons going on around him. Water in his face freaked him out, water in the ears did the same, he was very resistant, fearful and anxious in the water. We were going to have to rethink our approach, and decided to do lessons after the pool usually closed!
Private lessons came next, 5 long years of weekly private lessons with patient and understanding instructors (thank you Terry, James and Carol). It was trial and error for the swimming teachers, Leo simply had to learn at his own pace, desensitising him to his fear of the water. It wasn’t an easy road, but I was determined, thinking to myself “This is not going to stop – Mum is not giving in until he can swim!” And I didn’t give in. I couldn’t live with myself if something had happened to him in the water, having seen firsthand the devastation this type of loss causes in a family. So we persisted.
Leo is now 13, and next week has his final private lesson, having mastered both his fear and the main swimming strokes. And guess what – now he loves the water and swimming, and plans to continue swimming for fun and fitness, and to maintain his skills! I never would have believed that 5 years ago, and this is just a great outcome.
The swim centres motto is Love to Swim, Swim for Safety, Swim for Life. Leo did it the other way around. He swam for life, then for safety, and now for the love of it. Learning to swim has actually taught Leo many other valuable life lessons which will continue to benefit him in the future – to challenge himself, push himself outside of his comfort zone, and achieve results through sheer determination. He’s 13 now, and we are very proud of him!
Catherine Cox