Drowning In Hope

, , , , , | Hopeless | January 27, 2018

I am a swimming teacher. I just found out that one of my colleagues has suddenly passed away and that the family forgot to inform the club; we thought she was still recovering from a mild illness. I’ve known her for about 20 years, first as her student and later as her colleague. [Teacher] was a quirky one — for example, she would periodically dress in 100% pink, socks and shoes included — but she was a great teacher. If any kid was considered absolutely hopeless, she could manage to turn him or her into a decent or even good swimmer. I suddenly remembered an incident from about ten years ago.

We had a group of great swimmers going in for an exam. The kids were all around age 15, and had several certificates and diplomas. My dad, their teacher, decided to give them a special exam — a part they could not fail — and asked two parents to be drowning victims. The parents didn’t tell anyone about it, not even their son, who was in the exam. All teachers were informed… but my father forgot to inform [Teacher].

The parents pretended to fight on the side of the pool and “suddenly fell into the water.” They started splashing around, and we suddenly had a drowning situation. Their son was most confused, because he knew his parents could swim. He quickly realized it was part of the test, however, and was embarrassed.

However, because we forgot to inform [Teacher], she immediately went into lifeguard-mode, jumped into the pool, and started saving the parents. We tried to call her out of the pool, but [Teacher] wouldn’t faze easily; people needed to be saved.

When [Teacher] finally understood it was just part of the exam, she got out. One of the members of the board tried to get her out as well, but because of the chaos, he fell in, as well. To this day, my dad and the member of the board won’t tell me if this was planned or not.

The exam turned into a complete chaos, with [Teacher] shouting instructions from the side, three “victims,” kids trying to figure out how to save them, and several other teachers shouting to [Teacher] to just let the kids do their thing.

Like I said, the kids couldn’t fail and it was good test for them all, us included. And it was nice to know that [Teacher] would never just ask, just do. If this hadn’t been a test, these two parents would’ve been safe and sound, thanks to her quick thinking.

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This Parenting Thing Isn’t Going Swimmingly

, , , , , , | Related | September 5, 2017

(I have taught swimming lessons for many years, and have just started a program for swimmers with special needs. One family wishes to register their son, who is prone to violent outbursts, and was banned from swimming lessons because he choked a kid and held him under water. His parents chalk it up to his medical condition, and decide to try a one-to-one environment to see if it’s successful. His parents also want it during a busy lesson slot that his brother is in, when we really need extra instructors. They solely want this so they can attend a workout class. Luckily, it’s summer, so we’re able to get an extra instructor with no problem. After two lessons, I am having a hard time with him leaving the little pool or wanting to do any swimming. To make matters worse, he will not leave the water after the lessons are done until his parents show up. He is almost 12 and very strong, so we can’t physically move him. This is a problem, as his parents are often late, and we only have five minutes in between lessons. So, by the third lesson, I get a coworker to cover my next lesson so I can talk to his parents.)

Me: “He wouldn’t leave the kiddie pool again this time and threw a couple toys at other kids.”

Dad: “Oh, no, I’ll try to talk to him about that.” *starts to leave*

Me: “Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that. Since this session is almost over, if [Child] wants to pass to the next level, it’s going to be hard to do that. I want to talk to you about what you want for him. If you just want his time occupied, then I can absolutely do that with no problem, but we’ll most likely be spending it in the little pool.”

Dad: “Oh, no, we don’t want that. We absolutely want him to progress.”

Me: “Then I’m going to have to ask that one of you be present during the lesson or come before the lesson is over to help get him out of the water.”

Dad: “Hmm, I’ll have to talk to my wife about it. We do go to an exercise class during this time.”

Me: “Even if we could just find you in case he’s acting out. It really helps when you’re present.”

Dad: “That could work; I’ll talk to my wife and let you know.”

(I don’t see him for the rest of the summer. Fast forward two more months: they show up randomly, expecting the lessons to continue, when they haven’t confirmed anything or responded to any of the calls or emails. Since my schedule has changed, I am not present when they try to accommodate the child with a new instructor, but I hear about it. Unfortunately, the child punches his new instructor and breaks her glasses. He then refuses to leave, and neither of the parents can be located. A meeting is held to potentially work out a compromise, and what really irks me is what the father says:)

Dad: “We just want him to be occupied while we work out. From 9 to 9:45am, he is your problem, not ours.”

(A word from the minimum-wage lifeguards you’re abusing, buddy: 1) the program was completely free for you to use, and we went above and beyond trying to accommodate you, 2) I offered you that EXACT option earlier, but it wasn’t good enough for you, and 3) try to open your eyes once in a while!)

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Drowning In Sarcasm

, , , , | Learning | August 29, 2017

(I’m working with a group of kids who are at the age and the level where they can either sink or swim. Once they develop more technique, I push how far they can swim to practice their endurance. On this day, they are doing a particularly long one for the promise of extra play time.)

Student: “What if I have trouble getting to the end?”

Me: “You won’t, I’ll be right beside you. If you are tired, I’ll grab you, and you can rest.”

Student: “How will you know I’m tired?”

Me: “It’s pretty easy to tell.”

Student: “What if you can’t tell?”

Me: “Tell you what, it you’re really scared, how about we have a safe word? So if you say it, I know you need help.”

Student: “Okay, what will that word be?”

Me: “Aaaaaaah!”

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The Little Mermaid Student

, , , | Right | October 11, 2013

(I am a swimming teacher for mainly children under five. It is after the final lesson of the day. I am standing chatting to the parents. A young girl I have just been teaching walks up to me.)

Young Girl: “Excuse me. What are you doing?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Young Girl: “Why aren’t you in the pool?”

Me: “I don’t have anyone else to teach today. You were my last class.”

Young Girl: “But I thought you lived in the pool. Aren’t you a mermaid, miss?”

(I had to fight back the laughter as this little girl was completely serious, and was horrified to learn I didn’t live in the pool! It’s things like that that make my job worthwhile.)

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