Georgia started sailing lessons this week and in order to be allowed to sail out onto the actual lake, all beginner sailors are required to take and pass the dreaded Sailing Swim Test. The test involves getting into the pool dressed in a button-down, long-sleeve shirt, a pair of pants and boat shoes, swimming two lengths of the pool (fully clothed), stopping in the deep end and removing the shirt, pants and shoes while not drowning and then treading water for five minutes.
Henry took the test four years ago and it was stressful to say the least. I've barely recovered from the ordeal, which is saying a lot since, as the parent, I didn't even have to get into the pool. I didn't worry so much about Georgia. Watching Henry go through the test made Georgia better prepared, and she was a whole lot more calm about the situation. The beginner sailors have until July 2 to pass the test, but Georgia wanted to get her test done as soon as possible. She also wanted to take the test at an early hour so that there wouldn't be a thousand kids watching while she did it.
Did I forget to mention that these tests are done during the 15 minute adult-swims each hour and all the children hover around the side of the pool and watch each other's moments of victory or failure? Nothing like a little added peer pressure to an already stressful occasion, huh?
We arrived at the pool a few minutes before 12 o'clock and Georgia got into her outfit. She was joined by her beloved sailing partner, the very famous, Caroline and a few other girls who had advice to share.
As luck would have it, our friend Justin was taking his test at the same adult swim, so the testees stood together and looked over the course before the whistle was blown and all the kids got out of the water.
I had asked Georgia if it would be okay for me to take photos of her during the exam and she had given me her permission. I watched her walk slowly to the deep end of the pool.
With the life guard watching, Georgia slipped into the water and immediately realized that swimming with long pants and a button-down shirt and shoes is not nearly as easy as swimming in just a bathing suit.
The first lap was rather torturous to watch. Georgia looked like she was really struggling to move. I think she thought she was moving but in actuality there was a great deal of staying in one place.
The life guard and I offered words of encouragement and she eventually made it to side:
You are allowed to rest for about 5 seconds between laps and Georgia used this time to ask about different types of strokes and suggestions on getting back to the deep end without drowning.
Georgia is always a fan of gathering as much information as possible.
You will note that Georgia's oxford shirt is already unbuttoned and this is because we have learned many tricks along the way to make this test easier for the children. When Henry struggled to pass the test, more than one parent came up to me with whispered suggestions.... cut the button holes to make it easier to unbutton.... remove the lining and all pockets from the pants to make them slide off quickly.... wear super big shoes so that they fall off in the water...
When Henry finally rustled up enough nerve to take his sailing swim test, his clothes all but fell off him before he even got to the treading water part of the exam.
I did the same sort of prep for Georgia and once she had all the clothes off, she was a MUCH happier person:
The first 30 seconds of the treading water portion were a breeze.
The next few seconds - a piece of cake. I liked the above photo because it has both Georgia and Justin treading water with our friend Mark, swimming laps in the middle. Good form, Mark!
Minute One was finished:
Minute two - still smiling:
Minute three - getting tired (and probably bored and wishing that she had a book to read):
Minute four - almost finished:
Minute five: SUCCESS!
What a relief. Georgia has now finished all three of her swim tests at our pool - the two annual deep water tests and the sail/swim test. No more testing for Georgia!
Now these two... that's another story!
(Josie and her friend (and Caroline's sister), Dorothy, who both have all three tests ahead of them. Sigh)