Today, we went to the pool. This was after Elena had PT in the morning (which was fantastic), and a picnic at the park (lots of exercise on a beautiful day). After we got home, we went to the pool with a friend.
There were other neighbor friends there. Elena tries to hang with some girls her age--nice girls, but they simply move too fast for her to keep up. Elena is a weak swimmer at best (as is Viv), but she is improving.
I am enjoying talking to some friends--always with a watchful eye on Elena and Vivian. I notice that Elena has her hand on the wall--she has been swimming to the deep end, following her friends, a few feet at a time as they gravitate down the pool. I'm watching. She's behind them, they see her but they are moving as a loose group, and they are more interested in the three main girls than E on the fringe.
Suddenly, the girls take off to the other side of the pool (deep end, short-side). I watch as Elena decides to follow them. She has never tried this before. I doubt she can make it across. But I give her the chance.
Always watching, I see her take a few "strokes" as she has done at swim lessons, and as she does so, she becomes more up-and-down in the water. She gets halfway across the pool.
I can tell she isn't going to make it. Suddenly, I think Elena realizes it too.
It's all of 5 seconds before I'm in the pool and get her face to the surface.
She swallowed...maybe 2 gulps of water? That's what she told me afterwards--that's a typical day's play in the shallow end for her--but she was scared. I held her as I walked to the shallow end (I am only 5' tall), told her she was safe, I have her, remember to breathe, etc. She was stiff and tight (the water was pretty cold anyway), coughing, surprised.
The kids didn't notice a thing. The parents did, and asked if I was okay. Surprisingly, I was--only b/c I anticipated it and was ready. Elena and I (and Vivian, who saw me jump in to save E) talked a lot about water safety, knowing your limits, and the possibility of drowning. It's hard for Elena, b/c all of her friends can swim, they are all taller than her, and she's been doing so well at her swim lessons that I bet she didn't think much about it.
We are all fine, thankfully. Elena can do a survival back float pretty well now, but I guess in her panic she forgot about that. Vivian still needs to learn that one, but she can paddle better than Elena. Elena was back in the shallow end, playing, shortly after her rescue--swimming and going underwater as normal. And was I ever thankful.
I feel very strongly that Elena will be able to swim safely in a pool. It will just take more time.