Sunday, September 06, 2009

See You In September

Frank had his first swimming class yesterday. All summer long, we've been taking the kids to the apartment pool on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to cool off. Gretchen took to the water immediately and enjoys being thrown in the air and almost instinctively understood how to use the handrail at poolside to navigate the circumference of the pool to the ladder, but Franklin has demonstrated a certain degree of reticence when it comes to aquatic recreation. The first time we tried the pool out, there was a typhoon in the area and the water was pretty cold, and the air around it was moving around quickly and with a palpable lack of warmth. It wasn't not a pleasant dip, and his father really should have known better. But, as a result of the...dunking...controlled dunking...not waterboarding...Franklin was much more at home in the wading pool, content to kick the water and toss a ball back and forth while his younger sister motorboated around the pool.

We decided a couple months ago that when summer ended, because we would have a little more time, we'd take Frank for swimming lessons. NEAC in Taichung is the source of Central Taiwan's  best swimmers, according to scuttlebut. A couple weeks ago, we took him for a look-see and we liked what we look-saw. There was a definite local flavor to the place.

The pool complex is in a 3 or 4 story building, which, from the street, does little to betray the water within. Unless you read Chinese. But if you are in the water, there's no way to see the world outside. Sunburned days at the pool? Never! You must navigate a rabbit's warren to get to the line where shoes must be removed, and your swimming ticket is given to the auntie at the desk. Then, another hallway and staircase down to the dressing room, shower, footbath, and finally pool deck. The first pool you encounter is four lanes, and is the location of all the swimming lessons. There is an observation window on the floor above, just beyond the shoe-shed line, where mothers sit and read fashion magazines while their kids swim  laps aided by kick boards fifteen feet below. The deck itself is covered with plastic mats that deny children the opportunity to slip and fall at the pool. Another example of coddling, if you ask me.

Beyond the class pool, is a 15m lap pool where kids can practice, and beyond that, a small corner of the room is set aside as a sprinkler play area about the size of my bedroom. Continuing around the complex in a clockwise fashion, you arrive at a 25 m lap pool of three lanes, presumably for adults. At the opposite end of this pool, is a stairway on the left, and a doorway to the class pool on the right.

Upstairs, there is a spa pool that is about 25 meters long with regularly spaced jets of water positioned to massage all your body parts. This water is quite a bit warmer than the water in the lap pools downstairs, and I could marinate in there all day if I had a waterproof iPod.

The first Saturday we were there to look around, there were very few people there. Yesterday was a different story. Franklin's class of beginners was four-strong, but there were four other classes in the same time slot. Some of the mothers were reading about Louis Vuitton, but the rest of the parents had scattered about the complex to the various bodies of water. The 3-lane lap pool where I hung out had as many as 17 people in it at one point, making my goal of 20 laps an exercise of futility.

Franklin, as mentioned, is no fan of the water.  He was pretty cool, confident, and courageous up to the time the teacher got out of the pool to say hi. Frank hid around the corner, and it took two instructors to wrangle him into the water. From the next room, his protestations were heard bouncing off tile, cement, and water for at least 15 minutes. And then they stopped for one, two, three minutes.Fearing his teachers had drowned him, I went to check, and saw him guiding himself around the edge of the pool  and then sailing down the length of the pool in a swim noodle, happier than a pig in shit, as the saying goes.

In all, it was a successful day for him, and for me, happy as I am that he does not appear for the time being to be aquaphobic.

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