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My Daughter Swimming Her Way Out Of The Nest

by Caroline Cuinet-Wellings
Posted on 06 March 2013

I was taking photos of my daughter playing and swimming in the water the other day when I started to wonder if she will carry on with swimming as she grows up (as a sport I mean, as it is something she loves so much right now…) Then, I thought about how much you kind of copy your parents and carry on what they did, in your own way… I don’t want to go too deep into this, I just want to talk about lifestyle and sports habits as an example for this post. There is definitely a big part of nurturing when it comes to what your child will play as a sport or instrument. I am sure there are a lot of examples of children who have a talent that didn’t necessarily come straight from their parents or the way they were brought up by them specifically, but there must be connections, somewhere.

We see it all the time, a young actor is actually the nephew or the son of such big actor. Yes, they have contacts and network but that is the world that they have been brought up in. It’s not only true for people who make it big. Both my parents played basketball, I ended up playing basket ball (and still do) for 18 years of my life. My mum is really good at drawing and painting but we never really did any, or not that I remember…we were doing sports more. I wonder if she had been a full time artist, or if she had spent time teaching me on a regular basis how to draw, if I would have become an artist myself…? Well, I guess in a way, photography is a form of art, so perhaps, here goes the artist “gene”. Anyway, all that to say that I think it is equally important to be good role models in terms of politeness, and manners and showing our kids in everyday life how to behave well as it is towards a sport. A healthy lifestyle is so important nowadays, especially with all the bad food habits, misconceptions about health and stupid magazines who make us believe anything by planting skinny people on the covers.

We are the shape that we are, and we are beautiful like that, but I believe that we should strive to be healthy. Have a sport in our life to meet people, to have fun, to overcome challenges, to find solutions to problems, to have some time for ourselves, to be fit and healthy for the people around us if not for ourselves… I want my daughter to enjoy sports and to feel good being fit and healthy, so that, hopefully, although it is a little inevitable at a certain age, she will not be body conscious to the point of starving herself.


I had my daughter in Dubai. I am feeling really lucky to have had the opportunity to have my daughter in a country where, most of the year, you can live outside, enjoy the beach and the pool. if I had been back in France or the UK, I wouldn’t have had that chance on my doorstep.


We “put” our daughter in the pool pretty much straight away after she had her first jabs. I think she was a couple of months old then. I decided to take her to baby swimmers and learn to let my baby girl enjoy the water safely. You see, babies have reflexes that they will lose at some point and the earlier we learn how useful these reflexes are, the better. As I am noticing now, my daughter has had to re-learn these reflexes, so I am seeing that the instructor was completely right.


So, session number 2 and I have to put my baby under water… what? Clever way to do that though: hold your baby in front of you, blow gently in their faces so that they close eyes, mouth and nose, and dip them under the water for a couple of seconds, lift them up and cheer like a cheerleader! I never was phased by trying that, I was put in total confidence by the lady who was taking the session, and after all, if she had been doing that, that way, there must be a reason. My daughter was pretty good at this, if I say so myself, and so were all the other babies. I think that all the mums were relieved to see that this technique actually worked. Being part-time after having my child was so awesome because I could spend time at the beach, at the pool when I wasn’t working, with my daughter and repeat the familiar gestures that I had learnt at baby swimmers. When she was about 6 months I remember meeting a couple and their baby girl, who was about the same age as Leila. She had been born in the UK, and as the mum wasn’t lucky to live somewhere where she could easily enjoy a pool with her baby, this little girl was afraid of the water, whilst ours was jumping in from the side, splashing away in our arms, going under water and celebrating with us with big laughs and claps.


Three and a half years later, our little girl can swim a couple of meters, by herself, going under water, bringing herself back up, then down again then back up again. Of course, we are there around her to make sure she can hold on to us if she needs. We haven’t taken her to any lessons yet, she will probably do that at school, next year. It’s just so lovely to see her so confident (a little bit too confident sometimes, when she wants to brave the big pool by herself!). I am absolutely certain that being in the water is where she is the happiest.

I wonder what my daughter will end up playing. She can try anything and learn any sports she likes and I really hope she finds something that she loves to play or do so much that it will be part of her lifestyle. Although I have been a bit lazy lately, I have made the firm decision to show her more that I train, that I play, that I sweat, that I like playing sports with other people. I have taken her to watch her daddy play rugby too, so she sees the social side of things as well. I remember being proud of my mother playing basket ball at 40 years old with young things and still being able to run faster than them. I hopefully will receive the same from my daughter and she will want to push her limits and go for it and play sports because both her mother and father have made the effort and the commitment to make it part of their lives, however busy they may be.


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