It’s that time of the year again, when kids all across the country are jumping, diving, or wading into their community pools for summer swimming lessons. No matter where they live, children and their parents can be seen flocking to their nearest pools to learn, play, compete, and cool off. Even those who live in small towns, like we do, are not exempt from this annual rite of passage. Summer wouldn’t be summer without a pool!

As we made the drive into town for swim lessons at our local municipal pool recently, my kids chatted incessantly about what they’d be doing in the water that day. They talked about the “levels” they were in and how they would “move up,” the teachers they liked, the new kids they were making friends with, the specific skills they would learn, and the challenges they would meet – and it was only day number 2.

I couldn’t get a word in edgewise; you’d have thought we were making a trip to Disneyland for all the excitement. But in our small, one-stoplight town of about three thousand, the community pool is like an amusement park! There are no movie theaters, malls or bowling alleys, no hotels or motels, only a few restaurants.

What we do have is a great, modern pool that provides loads of summertime fun, in addition to swim lessons and swim team competition. When it re-opens each May, it’s a cause for celebration!

During the summer, our town activities seem to revolve around our pool.  Entire days are spent planning activities associated with a trip to the pool, especially in our house. My kids like to plan picnics – elaborate ones that threaten to make us late for lessons, and plot schemes to get me to McDonald’s or other eateries after lessons.  They scavenge at home, and in my purse, for extra change so they can buy a treat at the pool’s concession stand (another source of delight), and organize pool parties for their friends to attend.

But most of their unbridled enthusiasm is for the time spent learning in the pool. Both of our youngest girls, 7-year-old Gracie and 10-year-old Rachel, are keen to acquire new skills, especially since they result in accolades from their parents, as well as from their teachers. Sometimes they even get an “ice pop” from their instructors for a good performance day. Then with glee, it’s off to the showers for a dressing room production, followed by a good, long ride back home with the pleasant chatter of a day gone well and talk of the one to come. And all the while, they’re not only learning new skills and having some summertime fun, they’re learning to save lives, particularly their own.

On days when they don’t have lessons, I’m always amazed at the time they spend on the diving board and slides.  Rachel will spend hours jumping off the diving board – and waiting in line too, while Gracie never tires of repeat trips down the slides. Their older siblings enjoy the water as well, or watching them with me as we relax in the zero-depth entry area into the pool. (That’s a mom’s favorite part of the pool, I’m guessing, because it allows us to get into the water at our pace, and to remain as submerged as we feel like while keeping an eye on our children. It makes for a little down time as our kids are having their play time.)

In a world of fast-paced adventure flicks, electronic strain, and sensory overload, it’s nice to have some good old-fashioned fun at the swimming pool, and some delightful drives home talking about it.

Short swimming lesson video: