Living in California has a lot of perks and one of them is the weather. It even says so on the welcome sign at the entrance of my town.
Sometime before World War I, the US and German governments conducted climatological surveys around the world. And our little town came out on top (well almost)! They determined that we were the center of one of the three best climates in the world. We tied with two mysterious and exotic locales, the Canary Islands and North Africa’s Mediterranean Coast.
Fast forward to today and our town still proudly displays a sign that says “Climate Best By Government Test.” Not sure if or how global warming has affected this claim to fame, but since they haven’t conducted any additional tests, we still own the title.
So because of our awesome government-approved weather, you can’t go far without stumbling across someone’s pool.
Oasis’ of fun, pocketed in shady backyards; gathering spots for the young and old.
It’s summer in the Bay Area.
Last year, Ava liked the water and was happy to bob around in my arms or play in the shallow end of the pool. However, I was still determined to put her through her first lessons by the age of 3. So, she learned to swim last August.
She’s a strong swimmer now. Folks often stop and ask where she learned to swim. She has great confidence in the water. If she ever falls into a pool, she will know exactly what to do.
She will swim to the wall.
Every single time.
Mia on the other hand, throws all caution into the wind. She is fearless and will not settle for just playing in the shallow end of the little kid pool.
This summer, she is off and running. Jumping into the deep end, not caring that she doesn’t know how to swim. She is only 2 and already possesses a great love for the water.
And it scares me.
However, I have a secret weapon.
And his name is Dan Osborn.
Swim teacher extraordinaire.
A horse whisperer for teaching little kids how to swim.
He doesn’t live here, but he comes up every summer to give swim lessons in local private pools.
When I got the good news that he was coming back here in June, I signed up both girls right away.
Dan’s school requires a big commitment.
It requires swimming every day for ten days. A swim bootcamp, if you will.
As a teacher, Dan reminds me of a teddy bear who doesn’t take any crap.
He is tender but very firm with each of his students.
The first time you see him teaching, it’s a little unsettling. Kids crying while Dan carefully pushes them under the water.
But it’s like magic. They start to swim from the day one; whether they want to or not.
This year, Ava is building on what she learned from Dan last summer. Swordfish and Jellyfish. Now, he’s added Swordfish-Jellyfish-Bellybutton-Push. It’s the foundation for learning the breast stroke.
And then there is Mia. She is a tiny person with chubby baby legs and arms.
It took five lessons for her to stop crying. But on day 6, she showed up full of giggles. Ready to learn more.
Kicking as hard as her little baby legs let her, she inches towards the side of the pool, reaches out, and grabs the wall. An occasional gentle push on the back of her head by Dan to keep her moving forward.
She is buoyant. She is calm and happy. She is swimming.
Dan has given the girls two precious things. A lifetime love of swimming and the gift of life.
Because I know if either of the girls fall into a pool, they’ll know what to do.
They’ll pop up. Look around. Put their heads down.
And swim to the wall. Smiling all the way.
* Make sure you watch the outtake of Mia at the end of the video. It makes me laugh every time I watch it.