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“With my heart pounding in my ears, I took a deep breath, put my head under the water and looked at my baby – it was one of the proudest moments of my life.”
35 year old Katy Brown has just conquered her lifelong fear of going underwater by taking courage and inspiration from her 15 month old son, Jackson. A regular swimmer at Water Babies in Northampton, Jackson first took to the pool at just 12 weeks old and now happily swims underwater! Last month, Katy joined him, for a momentous mummy-son moment.
“Taking that breath before going under was the only fear I had to conquer. Jackson was smiling and eager to go and we did it together. He’s taken to water like a fish and I just kept thinking, if my baby can do it, I can do it. I feel so proud, I can’t tell you. It. It’s a huge memory for us as a mother and child! I got a well done badge which I know probably sounds silly but to me, it was a huge, life-changing achievement.”
A timid swimmer, Katy’s fear of going underwater has plagued her adult life. She believes an accident on a school trip to the south of France at the age of thirteen was the root cause of her phobia: “I was on the back of a banana-dingy with a load of other children. As you can imagine, we all fell off and everyone except me managed to get back on. I had a massive panic attack - my arms wouldn’t work properly. It left me with this deep fear. As I’ve gotten older, the worse the fear of going underwater has become to the point that I’d have a rush of anxiety and feel physically sick just thinking about it.”
After spending a year watching Water Babies teacher, Emma Yates, take Jackson for his submerged swims, Katy felt she could miss out on the experience no longer.
“It made me so sad that I couldn’t share that with him. I’d have to just watch the other mummies and daddies taking their little ones for the underwater swims while Jackson went with Emma. I hated that we were missing out on this wonderful bonding experience because of my fear.”
And so, after weeks of guidance and support of Emma and the rest of the Water Babies group, Katy donned a pair of goggles, a nose clip and took the plunge with her son!
“I felt sick at first, really fearful because if I’d have gone under and panicked it would have been awful for me and for Jackson. But it was wonderful, such an amazing moment! The whole group made me feel so at ease – we’ve spent a year getting know each other so I felt really comfortable. We’ve all grown together and I’m glad I was able to share this life-moment with them all.”
Whilst progressive and fun, Water Babies classes are based around child development and safety. With her own experience in sharp focus, Katy had another very real reason for getting under the water:
"I really wanted to conquer my fear before Jackson noticed it - I didn’t want to pass my fear on to him. My four year old daughter swims as well but she doesn’t like going underwater too much. I realised that it could be because she’s seen my fear and reluctance so now, I can work with her on her own confidence and ability too. I know that because of the skills and confidence they’re gaining through the classes, they won’t find themselves in the same position that I did all those years ago.”
In a nutshell, we teach water confidence and safety skills to babies and toddlers. However, we're about so much more besides. Our classes are great for making new friends, helping to enhance the bonding process, having fun... and seeing the utter thrill of your little one gliding underwater towards you.
In the last three years alone we know our lessons were directly responsible for saving the lives of ten little ones who otherwise might have tragically drowned. That makes us very proud.
And we like raising money for other babies. To date, we've raised over £750,000 for Tommy's. And we're aiming to raise another £200,000 for them (possibly!) this coming summer.
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