I've taught alot of dogs to swim; my poor first girl (an Airedale) had been thrown in the lake at the age of 6 weeks old (not by me). Thinking "dogs swim naturally" the idiot. From that day she was afraid of the water; gee that's odd eh? So anyway when she was my dog I decided she should learn to swim because she really wanted to go in but was afraid. It took a while; she did what most dogs do when they are learning, she was reaching. She was reaching for the bottom with her back legs which is not a good idea when you are trying to stay ontop of the water. Wasn't long and she was going down.
I came to Mandy's rescue many times before it kicked in and when it did she was gone. We use to go to the lake whenever we could and Mandy would just run in and be gone for a hour swimming. She'd go out really far; past my comfort zone and all you could see is her little head poking up out of the water. She also loved to go under and pull out rocks or I should say boulders. She'd pull out rocks that were so huge it seemed impossible for her to grab them but as a result in her old age; her k9s were mere stubs.
Most of my poodles have loved to swim, but they were all brought up on lakes. Lakes are easy to learn to swim in with the slopping entry. Here the ocean is scarey; even for a natural and pro like Tilley. She does not battle the huge crash on the shore and prefers now to run in the surf. Luke has never learned how to swim because of it. There are not alot of places to take your dog swimming here. There is the big waves ocean or the man made lakes that you aren't allowed in with dogs. So I miss the lakes.
I took Luke swimming "illegally" a while back. A harbor area where there are no waves but there is a huge drop off. Tilley had a blast diving off of the drop off; she learned to dock dive in Canada. Luke on the other hand had no idea that darker means deeper and while running around in the water; he himself dropped off. I had to go to his rescue as he was reaching, reaching for the unfound bottom and slowly sinking.
He fell off the edge several times and was so panicked that he never got the swim thing. He naturally knows to paddle but the reaching interferes with the swimming lesson. Because the drop off is not good for me to walk around in I couldn't help him. For Mandy I had held her rear end up until she learned to use it to paddle with instead of reach. Maybe I'll head back down at high tide when I can walk but Luke must swim, maybe.