Emma Hollingworth: Encourage children to take the plunge

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Every week I have the same running battle with my middle child about whether or not he should go swimming.

We go after nursery on a Wednesday night and have been going ever since he turned four last year.

However, he is very much a home boy and the idea of having to haul himself into his swimsuit and put on his coat and shoes again straight after coming home really does not fill him with any joy.

He is the kind of boy who insists on putting on his pyjamas the moment he comes home from anywhere.

And this doesn’t have to be at the end of the day – even if it is 11 o’clock in the morning and we have just come back from the shops he will dash up to his room and reappear a moment later clad in his Thomas the Tank Engine nightwear.

If he could live in his pyjamas I think he would. Getting him out of them in the morning is a real nightmare.

I am now dreading him starting school in September and the regular battle which will no doubt ensue as he is forced to wear a uniform on a daily basis.

He is one of those children who are most content just playing all day every day in the house.

He can sit for hours happily doing jigsaw puzzles or reading books. On my days off if I suggest a brisk walk to the park or a play in the garden I am met with a turned down mouth and him wailing; “But I want to stay here.”

It is only when his younger sister is literally bouncing off the walls with cabin fever that I insist we leave the sanctuary of our home to venture outdoors, much to his dismay.

Once he is out he does enjoy himself but he is really quite happy whenever I suggest it is home time, unlike his siblings who will cling wailing to the swing in the vain hope I will change my mind and stay on in the park.

Each Wednesday I dread the battle of persuading my son to go back outdoors – especially in the cold and wet weather – just so he can go swimming.

As he is only four he has yet to see the benefit of taking up a sport like this and how much fun it can lead to in later years.

I remember having the same battle with my eldest when she was his age.

Like him she was still just mastering the basics in the shallow end with floats strapped to her front and back.

Just swimming back and forth, even if you are chasing a rubber duck, is not exactly the most scintillating of occupations, so I can understand my son’s resentment.

But in just a few short years I know he will be just like his sister – who is now at the stage of diving in the deep end before completing a length of the pool in strokes I have never even heard of before.

Summer holidays always have to be based around a swimming pool; such is her passion for the water now.

And for me it is a huge relief to know she has such a life-saving skill under her belt, as I dread the day my children are old enough to take themselves off on holiday with their pals.

Now I know I won’t have nightmares that she will be swept away at sea because she can’t swim and I’ll not be there to try and save her.

I am hoping this year’s Olympics will also have a good effect on our son.

If he sees all the young swimmers and divers winning medals – especially from Great Britain – I am hoping the swimming bug will finally get him.

The fact that a lot of the young hopefuls for this year and beyond have been home grown here in Sheffield should also boost his curiosity.

There are some great swimmers and divers in Sheffield who have been trained at the world class sports centre, like Ponds Forge, here in Sheffield.

For more information about getting involved in swimming here in Sheffield and in particular the City of Sheffield Swim Squad, which is partnered by Sheffield City Council, visit: http://www.cityofsheffieldswimsquad.co.uk/