What is it?
If you’re an adult, swimming is either a water-based sport with great fitness benefits or the thing you wished you’d learned how to do when you were younger. If you’re a baby, swimming is either a chance to splash excitedly while being carried around a big bath or the tear-inducing torture mummy and daddy make you go through every Friday morning.
How much does it cost?
The amount of cash you need to splash depends on what you’re after. If you’re trying to create a mini Michael Phelps, half hour lessons will set you back around £10-£15 (although some fitness club include them as part of the membership fee). If just want to walk around the shallow end occasionally dunking your baby’s head under water or making the splashy hands motion, then public pools tend to let under 3s in free and charge adults less than a fiver.
What’s good about it?
The fact your baby instinctively knows that he or she needs to kick their arms and legs to stay afloat is incredible and the rate at which they progress is even more amazing. Most children smile incessantly while in the water. You can claim it as exercise. And, best of all, because there’s so much carrying involved it’s one of the few arenas where dads tend to hold an advantage over mums.
What’s bad about it?
The changing rooms. This is partly because there is never enough space for all your kit. Partly because of all the sharp edges. And partly because you’ll never remember to bring the change you need for the locker. But mainly because keeping your baby happy after getting them out of the pool is nigh-on impossible. I’m serious. If you can get both of you through the process of showering, getting dried and getting dressed without dropping your underwear in a puddle or looking on helplessly as baby breaks out in shivers or descends into a tantrum you’re on my shortlist for Dad of the Year.
How’s the hygiene?
Mixed. Most of the benches tend to be okay, but definitely take a portable changing mat, as the majority of baby change tables have seen better days. The biggest issue tends to be the floors, which is fine if your kid is happy to placidly lie on the bench. Mine is not.
Is it worth a second date?
Undoubtedly. But be prepared for it playing out exactly the same way as the first date. Which means? A promising start (the shower), a fantastic middle (the pool) and a terrible end (the changing room meltdown).