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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Just Keep Swimming...

Much to Jon and my great joy, Gretchen has started watching and enjoying Disney movies.  The pure joy that comes from watching a classic childhood movie with your family on a rainy day coupled with watching your little girl discover it for the first time is pretty awesome.  To date, Gretchen's favorites are Finding Nemo, Cinderella, Snow White and Dumbo - though I'm pretty sure none of them can beat her unfailing loyalty to Dora the Explorer.  Her love of Nemo is reinforced by the plate and bowl set that Grammy brought her earlier this year, and in Gretchen's eyes, every fish or aquatic-type animal is somehow related to Nemo.

So, when we signed her up for swim lessons, we used this to our advantage.  "You're going to blow bubbles, just like Nemo!", "Let's go under the water, just like Nemo!", you see what I mean.  Not to say that Gretchen is at all frightened of water, she is thrilled to be in a pool, lake, ocean, whatever you've got - but she's not 100% convinced that she wants to do anything but play in the water - and one of our parenting requirements is that our children learn how to swim.

Finding a local pool that offered actual lessons to little ones was a bit challenging for me.  Last year we went to the Ocampo Wellness Club for most of the year, but the instructor that we loved (Luciana) had a baby and stopped teaching at the end of the year.  Also, though the club itself is quite nice, the pool and pool changing room could use some lovin'; the temperature of the pool and the air was either pretty cold or stifling hot, the cleanliness of the pool was questionable at times and the dressing rooms were small, awkward and tough to navigate with a toddler.

I looked at Club de Amigos, a popular option in the city, and decided against it.  First off, they refused to give me prices over the phone or email, I had to come in person.  I went in person only to be told that the classes were not accepting new students until September (this was in June), something that clearly could have been communicated over the phone and saved me a trip.  Then the prices were super premium.  Two strikes - I'm out.

Little swimmer ready for action!
Then I looked in our own backyard, so to speak, at the gym we've attended for year and I've used for pregnancy swimming, Megatlon.  I requested a trial class at the front desk and was given two, so we attended the Saturday group classes and then talked to the instructor, Cristina, about teaching semi-private/private classes during the week.  We arranged a time, and found a friend to take them with us, and now we gladly attend our semi-private swim time for an hour a week.

This was not without it's challenges (of course).  I'm still not sure what the classes cost - I've heard anything from a firm AR$470 per month (10% less if you have another student join the class) to AR$890 per month and the child needs to be a member of the gym.  What actually happened is that we were charged AR$260 for one month of classes, and since we've only paid for one month I have no idea what will happen in the future.

For all of the classes, including the two freebies, we needed to have swim caps (both of us), a swim diaper for little G and proper swim suits (should go without saying, but you never know).  Also, for members to use the pool you need to be checked by the on-site medic, who basically looks at your feet and signs a little card that says you're good to go.

Daddy and Gretchen finishing up class
The pool is decent.  Warm, but not grossly warm. Most importantly, clean.  There is always a lifeguard on duty (though they're usually chillin' in the corner with some friends) and there are designated lanes for slow, medium and fast swimmers there to swim laps.  I will say that in my lap swimming days, there are times when it is quite crowded - I've been told 2-3:00pm is the best time to go.

Not picture here are two baby pools (currently under renovation, should reopen this month) that are super shallow (like 60cm) and available almost all of the time to bring your little one for "open swim".  Gretchen and I have done this in the past, just gone and used their toys to hang out in the pool area and burn off energy for awhile, no one has ever been there to crowd us.  The locker room showers leave a little to be desired, but there is a coat check for your things while at class and plenty of space.  A huge downfall for me is the difficulty with getting in and out of the gym with a stroller - it's possible but really difficult to manage.

So, as Dori would say, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming..." and hopefully we'll have our own little fish before we know it!

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