My son was scared of the waves at the Pacific Ocean beaches when we visited those when he was 1 and 2 years old. And he's been wary of the water ever since. At my family's cottage, he's always loved riding in the speedboat, but was never big on playing in the water until this summer. He still was nowhere close to swimming.
We stayed one night at a motel while in Michigan, to visit with close friends. He loved using my goggles in the pool. A family friend then bought him his own facemask. His new school, Homeschool By the Bay, will be held in a home that has access to a pool. School starts next week, but he's been going there for the past few weeks since I started back to work. He's suddenly swimming like wild! I showed him how to use his arms more effectively and the next day he told me I had sort of taught him to swim. :^)
The other day he showed me his summersaults in the water. He decided to try a back summersault. At first, it just wouldn't work. A minute later, he had it. Two minutes later, he was doing three in a row. And his handstands in the water are pretty good. He can only swim about 10 feet so far, but I won't be surprised if he's swimming the length of the pool in a few weeks. (Or maybe it will take a few years, like all the other big advances... I never can predict.)
Amazing how fast they learn, when they're ready!