It’s funny how things change from generation to generation. When I was 10-12 yrs old, every single one of my friends could swim. Whether they were on the swim team or not. And when I say swim I mean swim in the sense they could jump off the 1m or 3m diving board and swim to the side, play “Marco Polo” in water above their shoulders, play “Sharks and minnows” in the diving well of the pool.
Obviously some were better, faster, stronger than others, but going to the pool was like going to the playground. When I was 10 yrs old (4th grade) we lived about 8-12 minutes away from the local pool, by bike. My parents had no issues letting my brother (2 yrs younger) and I bike to the pool and hang out with friends all day long. It was an outdoor pool, 25 m long with a diving well, snack bar, and lots of places to sit or lay down. From 13-15 yrs old we lived some where else, but about the same distance to a 50 m pool with diving well, slide, and snack bar. Even during those years, I can not think of one single friend that could not play in the pool with the rest of us. Moving on to 16-18 yrs old we lived 100 m from the local summer pool. Not all of my friends were swimmers, but all of them could “swim” and have fun at the pool, or even go to the beach or water park.
Growing up water parks were more fun to me than amusement parks. Maybe because the weather was usually better on the days we went to a water park, the lines moved faster, or maybe it was just because I get motion sick on some of the roller coasters.
With clocks on the walls at most pools, and clocks around most water parks my parents would set up check-in times. It could have been anything from meet back here in 2 hours for lunch, or we are leaving at 16:00 so be back here ready to go home by then.
Today it seems like the ability to swim is considerably less. I currently live in a country with fewer pools, and a shorter summer period, but with girls that are 10, 7 and 4 I get to see a lot of different kids at the pool in the various swim lesson, swim practice groups. Even at the lakes, beaches and water parks there is an obvious difference in what kids of today can (or are willing) to do and what my friends and I were doing in the 80’s. Floaties, vest, and other devices seems to be the norm. Parents sit around the pool, in what seems like a hunting position, just waiting for their kids to fail, or “need” them. To me swim school and swim practice is like daycare or school. Your kids will be willing to do more and will learn more if you walk away.
Add mobile phones to the equation and then it seems like kids of today have been put on a shorter leash.
Makes me think of Damon Wayans from the movie Major Payne.