Tadashi looked as serious as he could and nodded. "I promise i'll be more careful and let you decide when i'm ok to swim by myself." After that though he let himself smile again. Zora was being the proper amount of stern but also very, very nice. Besides, it wasn't like he was going to find a better swimming instructor than someone who said they were a water witch.
At Zora's inclusion of him, Ethan grinned and made a sort of tiny squeak of happiness before covering his mouth. "Oh, um. Thank you, i'd like that a lot." He allowed Tadashi to finally release their hug but he stuck right next to the other boy. Rhode nodded at everyone before stepping back to where they had made the chairs, saying that was a wonderful idea and he would watch from the shore.
"Ok, so how do we start? I guess we get back in the water?" Tadashi asked curiously.
"Yes, back in the water, both of you," Zora ordered with a grin as she gestured to the ocean before them. "Although, don't go too far yet," she said as she followed behind them into the water. Stopping suddenly when she saw something, something she knew she could use, something rather useful. She then turned back to shore, and moved quickly along the sand, seeing what she wanted, and asking the owner if she could borrow their surfboard
"Okay, first things first," she said carrying the surfboard over her head until she came up to the boys and placed the board in the water between them. "We are going to start with floating and treading water, both extremely useful if you ever find yourself like today.. too tired to go on, or to keep on swimming." Zora informed Tadashi and Ethan.
Beneath the now re-forming armor on Rhode's face they smiled. They were correct that Zora would be a good instructor. They could tell by the way she spoke to the two children. Watching Tadashi spend his energy learning how to swim would be better than watching him struggle in the challenge. Rhode lounged back into the chair to watch.
Tadashi and Ethan weren't holding onto each other any more but they were still pretty close together as they walked back into the water. They were already wet so Tadashi didn't do that splashing thing Zora had taught him but he did shiver a little bit in reaction to getting back in the water.
When Zora suddenly stopped Tadashi looked at her curiously and watched as she left to go back to shore. Ethan stood even closer, essentially shoulder to shoulder with Tadashi as the two of them waited for her to come back. They only separated when she plopped the surfboard down in the water
"Ok. Is the board supposed to help us float or something? I got tired trying to swim pretty fast." He said that as he tugged a little at the cuffs of his gloves. Most of the time he didn't even notice when he did that sort of thing- it was just a thing he did absently when he was nervous about something.
"The board is probably big enough for both of us to hang on right? Like a big floaty platform thing, added Ethan. Who actually seemed a fair bit happier now that the two of them were back to doing something more or less together. Especially with someone helping them to do something together.
Hearing Ethan, Zora smiled at him, "That's exactly what it's for..." she said as she slid the board between the boys. "I am going to push it out until it's somewhat below my shoulder level," she explained. She was shorter than Tadashi and Ethan, and so she knew that they'd be okay and would be able to touch the ground if and when they needed to.
Walking out into the deep water, but away from the buoy, knowing that the land didn't drop off so soon and that the two boys would be safe if she took them over this way. When she was basically where she wanted to be, Zora stopped and looked at Ethan and Tadashi, gesturing that each of them should position themselves on one side of the surfboard.
"Okay, the easiest way to do this is to put your hands forward in front of you, like you are stretching and lightly grip the sides," she told them, wondering if she needed to demonstrate. "Then take a deep breath, and place your face in the water and relax your body, kicking lightly off the ground if needed, and letting yourself float to the surface..." she instructed, hoping they understood, ready to show them if necessary.
The two boys walked with Zora and the surf board. They trusted her judgement and though Ethan wasn't able to hold onto Tadashi so much he was happy being nearby. He had no problem following the instructions and holding onto the board, but he waited to make sure Tadashi was going to do it too.
Tadashi nodded and grabbed onto the board but he hesitated, looking nervous. "Put my face in the water?" After seeing Ethan ready to do it and the other boy giving him a pleading look, he relented. Tadashi took a big breath and then reluctantly put his face down into the water. Relaxing was harder but he kicked off the loose sand on the bottom and tried to let the air make him float.
It mostly worked, though he was clearly tense about it. Ethan, for his part, followed the instructions as soon as he saw Tadashi do it. He was tense too, but mostly because he kept sneaking a glance up to see if Tadashi was ok.
Then there was a rush of bubbles as Tadashi exhaled and surfaced, gasping for air a little bit. "We're supposed to just float face down? Shouldn't we be paddling or something?" Tadashi was a smart kid but he was out of his element in the water and it showed.
Back on shore Rhode happily watched the little group gathered around the surfboard. Yes, that was much better to see than the child struggling to outswim an expert.
"Actually..." Zora mused as she watched both boys struggle a little with the idea of floating face down, wondering if it had been such a good idea to start with this here out in the open water.
"Let's try something a bit different, and perhaps a bit easier," Zora said as she moved the surfboard out of the way completely."Let's try floating on your backs instead."
"I'll help you both, okay?" she said as she gestured to Ethan first, and Tadashi second, since he seemed a bit better, less afraid of the water.
"Just lean backward towards me," Zora said, adding, "I'll help position and support you," she told Ethan calmly as she put her out her arms to support his shoulders and back pulling him gently through the water as he kicked off until he was horizontal in the water. Holding him up, Zora let go slowly and said, "Now just move your arms slowly, back and forth, side to side..." she said smiling as Ethan seemed to pick up the idea with no problem.
Then she turned to Tadashi, smiled and said, "Your turn, and this is good for when your too tired to go on. You can always just roll onto your back in the water and float for a while, or even just swim on your back if you have too," she told him.
"Ok, I guess that might be easier. Are you ok with that Ethan?" Tadashi seemed pretty focused on making sure Ethan was alright even though the boy was clearly nervous about swimming himself.
Ethan nodded and leaned back in the water towards Zora's outstretched arms. Once he was helped he seemed to get it without too much of a problem, though he did frown a little when Zora let go. He couldn't help it- it was just how he was. He always wanted people to be helping and caring for him. Finally though he had shown how to float so he stood back up to go put a hand on Tadashi's shoulder and smile.
Tadashi sent a little smile back to Ethan and then looked at Zora with a little bit of determination in his eyes. Seeing his friend do it somehow seemed to embolden him. "Ok, I'll try it," he said as he too began to lay back into the water towards Zora. He was a bit shaky at it and squeezes his eyes shut to concentrate on trying to float. As expected Tadashi had the classic problem of naturally trying to fold his body up a little to keep his head from going underwater. But after a little bit of time and some gentle coaching he was going to be able to relax enough to float.
It was as Zora suspected as she helped Tadashi float. He, like most new swimmers, were afraid to put their head, face in the water, that natural fear of not being able to breathe taking hold.
"Good," Zora said, still lightly holding Tadashi, "Now, I want you to move your legs, kick gently, and move your arms slowly like," here she thought of an analogy,"like you are a bird... You are going to swim a bit on your back, just to become comfortable with the water, and see that it will hold you up." she explained as she slowly let go and took a step backwards, there if he needed her.
Ethan stood there kind of unsure what to do. He wanted to go over and hold onto Tadashi but he couldn't. So, he mostly just stood sort of near Zora as she worked with Tadashi. Not quite in the way but fairly noticeable.
Tadashi, for his part, followed the instructions he was given but kept his eyes shut. He felt like he wanted to just take big breaths and hold them in to help float but he needed to breath. Slowly and carefully he moved his arms and kicked his still sock-covered feet. He worked to relax his breathing a little and before he knew it he was floating. He was floating!
Tadashi smiled and opened his eyes. He was about to exclaim in happiness just as a small ripple of water from a wave came by and splashed his mouth with water. He coughed and spluttered and flopped himself back up onto his feet. An unpleasant surprise, but he was mostly ok. Ethan shuffled over to give him a hug. Or maybe he was taking a hug from Tadashi. It was hard to tell whether the boy was doing it for himself or because his friend was learning.
Back on shore Rhode was clapping at the two boys floating on their backs successfully. There wasn't much else he could do. He did turn to Shadow though to say, "I think your partner is a very good one. She's really helping the children."
Shadow had been watching the whole thing quietly from her spot on the beach. When Rhodes addressed her, she smiled a little, "Yes, I think so too. I knew she was a competent learner," she said thinking about her shadow training and how easily it had come to her.
"But I see she's also a fairly good teacher too, or at least a patient one," Shadow said as glanced with uncertainty at the two boys again.
When a wave hit Tadashi, Zora noticed that the tide must be coming in and that was why the water was slowly becoming a little more choppy. Probably not a good thing for a person learning to swim properly.
"Sorry boys, I think we should call it a day for now," Zora said to them as she waded sideways through the water to grab the surfboard. "How about we meet again another day, at let's say the public pool instead?' she suggested as she held onto the surfboard so it didn't float too far away with the incoming tide.