One thing we hear quite often is parents asking “How can I get my kids into swimming?” Swimming has many great advantages, from fitness, health and fun to serious career opportunities, but there can also be some boundaries along the way. As always with water it is important to respect safety and be aware of each child’s limitations.
To answer this question we have put together this short guide to help you get your kids on the road to becoming swimming superstars! Or at least swimming enthusiasts.
Being able to swim offers kids some great benefits, which can serve them for life:
- Confidence: Your child will be able to socialise and make friends with other like-minded kids.
- Inner Health: Your child’s lungs and heart will grow strong and healthy, and they will develop strength, stamina and better balance.
- Opportunity: Rather than your child having to sit things out, they will be able to enjoy social swimming events and have the chance to do things later in life, such as scuba diving, swimming with dolphins or even competing in sailing events.
- Life saving: You cannot and will not always be there for your kids; one day, the ability to swim might just save their life, or even the life of someone else.
Overcoming a fear of the water
Not all children rush to get in the water, some may be shy and others may actually be afraid, so it is a great idea to get kids swimming from an early age. You will often be able to find a ‘Parent and Baby’ class in your local leisure centre. If not and you are helping a child into the water for the first time, here are some things to remember:
- Your brain works differently to theirs; what may seem easy for you can be daunting for them and it is important to keep this in mind. A child might see a pool of water as a vast ocean and their smaller lungs and frames mean that they will become colder more quickly.
- It is important to build trust, do not throw a child into the water as this could give them a life-long fear. Do not force them to do something they are not comfortable with and try not to make a big issue about things or lie to them. For example, if they have a scary moment be careful not to brush it off; whilst you do not want them to be scared, you always need them to respect the environment.
- Take care not to overreact if they swallow water or get it on their face. Keep them safe, but remember that it is only water and molly coddling them will teach them to panic.
- Make the occasion fun!
- Take your time; if they do not want to do it, that is fine. Let them discover the water at their own pace.
- Make sure they always know where the toilet is (if not in your own garden) and to let you know if they need to go. For those too young to learn, swim nappies are essential.
- Be reassuring and encouraging. Kids love rewards and you can even go as far as to make your own certificates for each new goal they achieve.
Safety comes first
Respecting the water is vital so make sure all kids understand and respect the rules. It is important that whilst learning to swim, they use to all the necessary equipment, such as armbands, pool noodles and/or life jackets. Attending a local lifesaving class can also be a very wise move, especially if you have a pool in the garden. Of course, any garden pool should always have a pool safety cover, or a locked fence around it.
Making it fun!
As mentioned, there are many health benefits to getting kids into swimming, but it should also be fun for them. We found this blog from ‘Today’s Parent’, which has some fantastic ideas for fun games to play with kids, whilst encouraging them to learn how to swim.
Lastly, don’t forget your camera. We have all had the “Mum! Dad! Look at me, look at me!” moment. Kids love to show off their new skills, so don’t ignore them. If they can look up and see their family and friends filming them and taking photos, they will enjoy a new sense of pride and achievement that will be fun for all.
Later in life, many great career opportunities can lead from being a strong swimmer. Not only that, but swimming pools are sociable places whatever age you are; kids can make friends, adults can exercise and hang out. Here are some potential avenues for your young ones to explore.
- Olympic Hero! Okay, so not everyone is going to end up as a Rebecca Adlington or Michael Phelps but for some the potential is there. Whilst trying to hit those heights, your kids will be healthy and let’s face it, super fit!
- Swim Teacher/Coach
- Animal Trainer
- Aquafit Instructor
- Coast Guard
- Scuba Diving Instructor
- Professional Scuba Diver
- Boat Crew/Navy
- Marine Biologist
- Rescue Swimmer
- Pool Management/Staff
This summer, we’re looking forward to some amazing weather so we can wile away the afternoons in the back garden pool. Swimming is an opportunity for the whole family to put away the iPads, turn off the TV, Switch of the mobile phones and communicate, have fun as a family. Remember to stay safe, but make sure you have fun!