Chicago mom envisions a world without swim noodles and it’s just fine

I am the type of person who would drown in a puddle. Swimming is as foreign to me as flying. So when my husband made a stink over the fact that I kept putting life preserver jackets on our boys whenever they went through a sprinkler, I knew I’d have to figure out something.

So I signed them up for swim lessons.

After maxing out our credit cards for a local high-end swim program, I watched excitedly each week for my boys to master this important skill that had always eluded me.

I didn’t expect them to turn into Michael Phelps week one. I didn’t anticipate them gliding through the water or perfecting the back stroke even the first month. I didn’t hope for anything more than a basic doggie paddle. I simply wanted my children to be able to save themselves should they accidentally fall into my brother’s pool at his annual July 4th barbecue.

And after three years of assorted programs and lessons?


Plus, I was now broke.

The instructors kept giving the kids swim noodles. Week after week. Year after year. They never once pitched the kids into the water and told them to swim for shore. Or rather, the ledge.

That damn swim noodle ruined everything.

Fed up, I finally marched over to the main instructor on our last day and asked how much it would cost and how long it would take to finally see an actual stroke.

The instructor immediately talked up the importance of the blasted swim noodle. I believe she cited a study on “The Expert’s Guide to the Swim Noodle Technique.” She refused to stop saying “swim noodle.”

I walked out before I could tell her where exactly to shove her precious swim noodle.

Stuck with three boys who couldn’t paddle their way out of a bathtub, I signed up for cheapie Chicago Park District lessons with our last four dollars. I was defeated and expected nothing more than an hour of water aerobics led by a 12-year-old.

Yet my kids learned to swim. The breast stroke. The back stroke. The butterfly. I couldn’t believe how well the experienced instructors pushed the kids to swim harder and farther each week.

I had always believed that you get what you pay for in life, but this time, I was so wrong. The Chicago Park District has some of the most talented and devoted swim instructors I have ever witnessed. My boys are now capable of dragging my sorry butt out of Lake Michigan should the need arise.

And most miraculous of all?

This was all done without a single swim noodle.

Imagine that.

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