Tonight I took the kids swimming at my dad's as a way to kill time while waiting for the firework show. We go swimming at least once a week and usually more. Lila always enjoys getting into the water, but she maintains a death grip on whomever is holding her and helping her swim around. She wears a combination swimsuit/life vest, but has had no interest in learning even the basics of maintaining her balance and floating. Every single time I try to let go of her and teach her to balance she immediately panics, screams and cries, and ends up tipping herself face first into the water, which reinforces her fears.
But tonight we had a major break through! She was jabbering away about something and didn't notice the first time I let go of her that she was balancing herself. She started to panic, but I caught her and told her that if she could balance while I counted to three then she could be done with swimming. She did it! And then she wanted to do it again! And again! And before I knew what was happening she was paddling her little arms and floating across the pool, repeatedly telling everyone in sight, "I'm swimming! I can swim all by myself!" It was wonderful. For almost an hour she relished the new found freedom of being able to go any direction that struck her fancy. At one point she was making large circular strokes with her arms and she exclaimed, "I can fly!" Another time I reached out to help her and she shooed my hand away saying, "No Mom. I do it myself."
I am so proud and excited of her new found skill and self-confidence. It's going to making swimming days so much more relaxing for me.