Age over Ability

Liam has really become a strong swimmer. Since the start of last summer he has been going into the deep end, with a life vest, but otherwise unassisted. He’s even going off the diving board and able to swim back to the wall on his own. Heck, taking Liam to the pool has been pretty simple. I hang out on the wall, he keeps jumping off the diving board and repeat. Bark out the occasional order and all is good.
This Summer he upped the ante a little. He wanted to go into the deep end without a vest. I was a little sceptical but we tried. To our amazement hr was just fine. He could jump in and swim back with no problem at all. We even had him swim lengths(more to warm us up) and there was no clinging to us. He totally held his own. With no real swimming lessons he just sorted out what he needed to do and did it.
Mom and I were really proud. He was a determined boy and nothing stood in his way.
However he still wasn’t allowed to try for a swim test. The test would allow him to go into the pool on his own. To be honest, I wasn’t worried about that. We would both feel a little better if he was close to us, especially in the deep end. So the while summer(almost 6 weeks) we were at the pool, he was jumping in on his own, and there was no problem.
Until last night. We headed for the deep end as usual, Liam hopped on the board and was ready to go. Then the life guard mentioned to us the he needed a vest. I asked why, thus was the first time he’s been asked to do that. Apparently they just started to enforce the rule over the weekend(although we were there all weekend too) and they wouldn’t let him jump in without one. Hesitantly I agreed and we headed for the vests.
Liam was devastated. He knew he could do it, we knew he could do it, but rules were rules. I asked the manager if there was some wiggle room, but he was still too young even for that. He would have to wait this summer and next before he could even take a test to show them what we already knew. It was heart breaking. He hopped into the little pool and stayed there the rest of the swim. The thought of having to wear a vest just wouldn’t cross his mind. If he couldn’t go into the deep end without a vest, then he wouldn’t go.
Now I know that there are all sorts of rules/laws based on age.  Driving, smoking, voting, drinking(which still seems high), etc, but this seems a little unfair. It’s not like we’re wanting him to go in by himself. We would still be there, and if he were allowed to show the life guard his ability, I’m sure they would agree. But he’s not even given the chance.
Maybe because it’s my son that’s involved that makes it harder. But it just seems unfair.

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