The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

National Down Syndrome Society
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Classrooms and the Pool
Classrooms and the Pool

My great story is about my son David, inspired by him and his love of the water. We frequent a local swimming pool each summer. Two years ago we were there on a very hot July evening. There were surprisingly few swimmers left that evening and a group of boys in David’s brother’s 5th grade class had formed and were taking turns jumping from the lower of the two diving boards in the deep end affectionately known as “The Well.” One of the boys in the group is like David but three years older. David and I had taken a passing interest in the group as we watched them in between the “lessons” I was giving him on floating on his back and the scissors kick from the shallow end of the pool where the water was still deeper than he is tall. I was awestruck by what happened next. David decided to swim on his own from where we stood in roughly the center of the pool to the side some 30 feet away. He’s swum further than this in the past and I was not concerned or surprised to see him make it this distance on his own. What was surprising was that he swam back to where I was and then repeated the process two more times barely stopping at the turns, bringing his total distance to over the lap length of the pool. On his last leg back to the side, he got out of the pool and headed for the diving board to join the group of boys. They welcomed him. I followed along working hard to keep my concern in check. When it was his turn, he walked out to the end of the board where he stood poised to jump for several minutes obviously struggling with his emotions. He went through a repetitive process invoking all the muscles of his body and screaming first in response to cheers of the small group now including me, followed by a moment of silent determination and willingness. This process was repeated several times before he jumped and swam to the side for the first time in the deep end of the pool. In hindsight, David and the caring group of boys had the lesson for me that evening. Inspiration and motivation are largely self determined and that practice builds self confidence.




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