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Taking the Plunge 

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Baby, it's cold outside, but the Program Pool at the Burlington YMCA rarely drops below 84 degrees. It's the winter equivalent of a day at the beach.

I recently brought my 9-month-old, Celia, to one of the Y's infant and parent swim classes. It was our first trip to the Y, and we found the lobby bustling with daycare traffic and people headed to various classes.

Once signed in, we found the kid-friendly locker room, complete with low-set drinking fountains and short lockers. There was a line for the changing table, but plenty of bench space to get Celia tucked into her swim diaper.

About 10 other babies — and their parents — hopped right into the invitingly warm water to start splashing. After getting the kids into the water, the class worked through songs and circle dances that led up to encouraging kids to "jump" in, safely sliding from the pool's edge to parents' open arms.

Instructor Jess Lukas enthusiastically led the class through dances and exercises to get the babies excited for swim time. Who knew there was a pool version of "Wheels on the Bus" where babies are the wipers swishing through the water?

Kids in the class ranged in age from 6 months to about 3 years, and Lukas gives lots of individual attention to help parents get babies of different ages paddling at their own speed. Celia has spent time at the beach and had a few swim classes already, so she was happy and engaged by the other kids.

I didn't think the class would be much of a workout for me, but I was surprised when, later that day, I found I was sore from all the squats and baby lifts in waist-high water.

Lukas' sessions are designed to get babies used to the pool at a young age. "It sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy activity," says Jane Dunbar, who until recently was the Y's director of communications. Once they're confident in the pool, young swimmers may graduate to the Y's Pike classes for kids ages 3 to 5.

You can energize the family during the Y's Open Swim times, too, on weekdays, evenings and weekends. The times vary, so check the Y's website for schedules.

Celia and I would happily swim and sing our way through this class again. It was fun, the time flew by, and Celia got a chance to socialize with other cool pool kids her age.

Infant & Parent Swim: Six to eight week sessions meet once a week. YMCA membership not required to register
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