The Times West Virginian

Local News

September 3, 2013

Lazy summer days provide nice ‘mom and kid time’ for Holberts

FAIRMONT — Every mom needs a little “mom and kids” time.

Kids need it, too.

Kim Holbert has found the perfect combination of fun, learning and free time: swimming lessons for her two sons, Ian and Evan.

The two boys took their first swimming lessons last summer at 12th Street Pool and continued there this summer, too.

After learning the finer techniques of things, the three would often have a picnic lunch or maybe a quick pizza — perfect mom and kid time.

And sometimes after the lessons, they would head to Wave Tek Pool or Bridgeport Pool with friends.

“Bridgeport has diving boards, a splash park and slides,” she said.

They also liked Wave Tek for its waves.

“And not having those diving boards at 12th Street really helped the kids keep focused on the lessons,” she said.

But it really doesn’t matter where they went. The trio went as a group to be together and just plain have fun.

That’s what summers with the kids are all about.

This is the second year for her kids taking swimming lessons.

“They started last year and both are up a class now,” she said. “Neither is a stellar swimmer, but I’m proud of them. But we go to the pool almost every day and that’s helped.”

Evan, who will be 6 next month and just started kindergarten, still uses his swimmy, “with the fun little critter on the front,” she said.

Big brother Ian, 8, just started third grade and is a natural swimmer — or will be, she said.

“He’s our electronics fiend. That’s another reason I like to take them to the pool. Electronics and the pool do not mix at all.”

Evan is more like his dad Matt — “a cannonballer,” she said with amusement.

That first day, all the little swimmers-to-be were grouped up and played a swimming game. Little did they know, coaches were evaluating their swimming abilities.

“That’s nice because kids tend to freeze when they think they’re being tested,” she said.

Then they were split into groups, with each class guided by two lifeguards, and age groups in different parts of the pool.

“They could just barely touch bottom, even with stretching,” she said, amused. “Every day they worked on one thing, based on their level. And then they practiced.

“As a mom, I liked seeing the coaches taking such an interest. Here we can see their progression.”

Ian and Evan were in both lesson classes in June and July.

“I can see in just four weeks what they’ve learned. I can say ‘ice cream scoops’ and they know to cup their hands for freestyle strokes. They’re getting better.”

So they’re having fun and learning at the same time. They go with friends, so that’s fun, too.

“I don’t have to say, ‘OK, time for swim classes.’ All I have to do is say, ‘OK,’ and they’re in the car. It’s not a chore.”

Except on those cold June days.

“Then they wanted to sit it out. But guess what? I told them, ‘You’re here to swim, not sit on the sidelines. If you’re not participating, you’re not learning. So what’s the point of taking the class?’”

For her, learning to swim is “one of the big three” for kids.

“Tying your shoes. Riding a bike. And swimming. These are life lessons and life skills every child should know. Everything else is hit or miss.

“If you don’t know how to swim, you’re at a severe disadvantage. You have to stay in the shallow part of the pool.

“It’s a socialization skill, too. Ian’s in Cub Scouts and we want to take them camping, canoeing and swimming. But you can’t do that if you’re afraid of the water.

“My dad never learned to swim. He’d go fishing but if he fell in, he wouldn’t be able to save himself.

“I want my children to be able to try to save themselves and not be afraid of the water like my dad.”

Even a friendly pool party among friends can turn dangerous if someone who can’t swim is pushed in, she said.

“They won’t have to worry about crossing a creek or having to walk five miles to the nearest bridge to cross over,” Holbert said.

She sees a future swimmer in Ian, she said.

“He’s built to swim well if he likes it. And it seems like he does. But the boy cannot dive to save his life! His arms are in the proper position but he wants to jump in feet first. I tell him to dive in head first and his feet will follow.”

She can swim, she said.

“But I’m not great. I didn’t have formal lessons. I think I learned as much watching as the kids did.”

The other local swim pool they frequent has 15-minute adult swim periods every hour. She likes this for several reasons.

“I can swim beside the kids in the splash park and keep my eye on them. And I get exercise. I’m not just walking around to make sure they’re safe.

“It’s a good way to get rid of these chicken wings,” she said, laughing.

Those lazy summer days were wonderful getaways, she said.

“When we’re done, we’d go shopping or have lunch together. Mom and kid time. It was nice.”

Email Debra Minor Wilson at dwilson@timeswv.com.

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