The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, March 19, 2007

Fintan goes swimming

Yesterday, Fintan,three, took to the pool. Typically, being Fintan, he found something unusual to do there.

Unlike other kids, who swam as humans do, Fintan decided upon something a little different. It might be helpful to know that, so far, none of our children have had any formal swimming lessons. So, when they try to swim, they do so from their own resources. Fintan tried to swim, but never having been taught to do so, he had to try his own method. What did he do? He swam like a dolphin. He adopted the characteristic up and down motion that dolphins use to propel themselves through the water, with his legs substituting for the tail he did not have. It is difficult to describe exactly what he did, but the result was very characteristic of dolphins: he basically looked as if he were patterning a dolphin's movement, overlaying the way it moved onto his limbs.

I thought this both funny and smart. You see a dolphin is a very good swimmer indeed. Fintan must have realized that - so when presented with the problem of how to swim, he decided to try it the way the dolphin does. It worked in propelling him forward, but, for a human this method of going up and down in the water, legs flexing as one, like an imaginary tail, has one drawback: it keeps one's head under the water for long periods. Thus, he can only swim so far, before he has to stop for air. A dolphin would just leap out of the water, breathe, and continue to swim: a human is not equipped to do that really - not strong enough.

Fintan is a good observer of the natural world and his use of the way an animal moves to teach him something has a long and worthy precedent. You see, Kung Fu is derived in the same way: studying the way animals move and adopting a human version of their movement is behind many of the "styles" of this ancient martial art. Fintan doesn't know this - but he does know one thing: the dolphin swims well - so perhaps he could, too, if he did what a dolphin did.

To a very great degree, Fintan did swim like a dolphin, yesterday. Well done, my athletic boy!

(If you would like to read more about Fintan, three, or his gifted brothers, Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and three months, and Tiarnan, thirteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, baby genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:18 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I chuckled at this post.

My son, now 7, *has* had attempts at formal swimming lessons.

Two factors have hindered him: he hates group lessons of any kind and he's allergic to chlorinated pools.

So when we find a pool he *can* be in, it may have been upwards of 6 months since his last swim.

He recently had such an opportunity to swim, and he swam in exactly the way you described. I had not labeled it as dolphin-esque. I just chuckled at the movement and let him have at it. It got him where he wanted to go (and that was more than could be said for my daughter's swimming attempts - insert chuckle here).

So now, when I see him doing his swim-thing, I will think of it as the dolphin kick.



1:32 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

How interesting. Was your son consciously modelling dolphins...or unconsciously or just coincidentally?

I haven't asked my son whether he was consciously modelling them but I know he likes animals very much, watches animal shows and is a good it seems to me that he was.

With Fintan it wasn't just the kick that was dolphin like, it was also the way he travelled deeper and shallower in the water, and the way he dived in and out of it. It was funny...because he really did capture the sense of a dolphin.

Best wishes to your swimming son!

2:18 PM  
Blogger Lynn Tan said...

Fintan the animal lover.. ^_^ when he grows up maybe a job related to animal may suit him just well.. ^_^ hopefully i will be able to do my degree in Vet. Technology this year .. as for his swimming style.. it was cute.. excellent observation.. since he has good observation and eyesight.. being a Vet is a good starting place to look into.. or a researcher..

11:51 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, something with animals would probably appeal to him. He has a heart for them, I think.

I just want him to explore and see what he likes.

Good luck Lynn with your courses...


1:44 PM  

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