I was at the Y today for open swim with the kids. We love to go to open swim and make it almost every week for at least an hour. This time is just for fun. I want the kids to be able to just play and figure they are improving their swimming skills just by chasing each other through the water and experimenting with different ways they can move themselves. I try to leave the coaching/teaching for practices and lessons.
Today I saw a mom with her two children at the pool. They came in with their fins and kickboards. The mom asked the lifeguard if the kids could swim laps and then gave the children instructions for what to swim. She sat on the side and occasionally came over and gave them additional instructions. I have seen these children and this mom at swim meets but have no idea how well the kids swim. To be honest, I don't really pay attention to the kids in the pool unless it is someone I know. I don't even know what team these kids swim for and it may be the same team Jacob is on. It doesn't matter.
My concern with what I saw was whether or not the children wanted to swim laps. Did they have the choice? I don't know. It's possible they were having fun and wanted mom to run her own practice. Jacob will sometimes choose to swim laps during open swim and really enjoys racing me in the pool when I have someone who can hang out with Matthew in the shallow end while we race. The difference is that I don't tell him what to swim or how far. I believe that should be left to the coaches at practice (which is later today so really no reason to make him practice twice in a day).
Again, I have no idea what this mom and kids were doing other than swimming laps. I definitely don't want to say that what they were doing is wrong since it may be what they all wanted to do. I just have seen too many parents who put too much pressure on their kids to excel at sports and it stops becoming fun. Children need encouragement and lots of time to practice their new skills but it should be in a fun manner. Especially outside of practice and team functions.
So if you see the kids with me at the pool, don't expect to see me telling them how many yards to swim or what strokes. Other than giving little reminders or enforcing safety rules, you won't see them "practicing." You will see them playing tag, racing each other or me and just having fun. There is plenty of time for working hard later.