The Neu Dad first swim

Testing the water

September 26, 2016Michael Oldham

You might think a week long break in the south of France, followed by a couple of days off back home, would be the ideal recipe for some rest and relaxation for parent(s) and baby. 

We had a great break, but things were not quite that simple….

After a few initial days of grey skies, the sun came out in force on day three in France. We took the opportunity to do some sight-seeing with Marley; a walk up the hill to a chateau in a small town called Termes (worst lunch ever), a stroll in the picturesque Lagrasse (photo above) and then a bit of time chilling out by the pool. 

It was there that I had the idea that he might like to be dipped in freezing cold water. 


We had bought a mini wet suit and swimming nappy (and a cute hat) in advance, and after sitting out in 30C+ outdoor temperatures – Marley in the shade, of course – it felt like a good time to see if he liked water. I jumped in first, to see how it felt (refreshing…..for an adult). The pool thermometer read 22C. I really should have known better.

I tried dipping just his feet under at first. 

He hated it.

But everyone hates that first shock of cold water. I thought “it might just be an initial shock, maybe he’ll warm up once he is properly in”. So I dipped him in again.

Only this time, I plunged him deeper so the water came right up to his waist.

He hated it. Even more than the first time.

At first, he just kind of gasped, and held his breath for a second. But then he started crying. Well, screaming really. Lots and lots of screaming.

And then he went purple. 

And that’s basically the way he remained.

I could still hear the screaming coming from the house for about half an hour after that (yes, I’m ashamed to say I carried on swimming in the pool while my wife consoled him) but he did eventually stop.

I think the guilt properly set in when someone told me later that a temperature of 32C would be more appropriate for a baby of his age. Poor little man. 

Purple face strikes again

A couple of days later, once he had finally forgiven me, it was time for us to fly home. We boarded the plane without any fuss, and after take-off he was sitting on my knee really comfortably.

The lady on the seat next to me, who had given birth to five (FIVE!) of her own, even commented on how well behaved he was. 

And then, without warning, something changed.

I don’t know what, or why, but it was as if someone had reminded him of being dipped in the frozen water all over again. The screaming started spontaneously, and didn’t stop until we were back in London around two hours later. 

Once we were back on British soil, he seemed to calm down again. Eventually. But his second trauma of the week was, unfortunately, not the last.

And again…

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m not a big fan of injections. And it turns out Marley takes after his dad in that respect. His second round of jabs today was like another flashback to ‘Poolgate’, and once again we were treated to the wild screaming and purple face.

Thankfully, he once again managed to get over the trauma and was a lot happier on the way home. But I imagine it’ll still be a while before we attempt another swimming lesson.

Comments (1)

  • Swimming with a toddler – The Neu Dad

    January 31, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    […] one or two slightly traumatic experiences put us off for a while. But at a friend’s birthday party just before Christmas, we had a […]

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