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Kids (and babies) LOVE Swim Lessons
Happy Swimmers, Safe Swimmers
Swim lessons. They give parents Peace Of Mind. Whether on vacation or at a neighborhood pool, having your child safe in the water is comforting. But how do you find great swim lessons? And what if your kids really don't like the water? How do you make learning to swim a positive experience? How old (or young) should kids be when they start?
I am a former swim instructor for the Red Cross and swim team coach. Now I pick the swim instructors and swim programs for my 3 water loving kids.
All swim instructors should be certified with the Red Cross, and an additional lifeguard should be on deck.
Swim Lessons for Babies?
If you have warm water and a swim diaper, getting in the pool with your baby can be so. much. fun.
What do babies do in the pool?
Think of your favorite Mommy and Me class in a warm pool. Babies are just getting comfortable in the water. You think- so what? Well, getting comfy as a baby means no screaming, terrified toddler later. Babies who love water turn into kids who love water.
What makes a great baby swim class?
Seek out an easy-going happy instructor who loves to sing baby songs with all the hand motions, splashing and kicking. Parents make all the choices. Have fun.
Some really warm indoor pools have baby classes for 2 months and up. The key is that you feel confident with your baby. Babies feel nervous when you feel nervous.
Swim Diapers - Use the washable cloth ones.
Cloth swim diapers help the environment and are more comfy for kids. They should fit snug around the legs and waist. Babies can just wear a swim diaper (think French Riviera or ... baby Speedo) or put the swimsuit on top.
Did you take your babies to swimming lessons?
Books: Learning How to Swim
Kids Learn Water Safety
Swim lessons have built in, age appropriate water safety instruction.
For example, kids learn how to save themselves. Beginning swimmers learn to doggy paddle back to the wall. They learn to grab something that floats. They learn about life jackets. They practice swimming with a life jacket. They learn how to tread water and float to conserve energy.
"Throw, Don't Go!"
Never ever jump in after a struggling swimmer. Kids practice throwing floatation devices, life rings, and getting help while on deck.
Incredible Video. Drowning is NOT like the movies.
Recognize the signs of a struggling swimmer.
Participation in swim lessons provided 88% reduction in risk of drowning for ages 1-4.
Dr. Ruth Brenner, NIH
Children's Books about Water Safety and Swimming - Get ready to swim!
Before going to new swim lessons or before going to the beach, read some books. Anxiety and fear are a major factor when learning how to swim. Reading about swimming and water safety with these really cute books are so beneficial. A calm, relaxed swimmer is a happy swimmer.
This is an excellent book about water safety for kids.
Why Go to Swimming Lessons?
It seems like so much time and money.
Swimming is super exercise. Easy on joints. Low impact. High Cardio. Works coordination too.
Don't forget the whole "social-emotional" learning piece. Make friends while splashing around.
Language learning. Babies, toddlers, and kids communicating and learning a new lingo.
Self-Confidence. A confident kid is a relaxed, happy, safe kid.
And besides, kids and babies sleep GREAT after swimming lessons. If you schedule your lesson before nap time or bedtime, bring jammies, snack, and toothbrush to the pool. Your little one will probably fall asleep in the car. Just make a beeline to the crib when you get home... and then put your feet up. Phew. What a fun swim lesson.
Benefits of Swimming Lessons
Swimming Lessons are more than just a summertime activity.
Swims Like a Fish... - or not.
Can your kids swim?
Warm Swimmer = Happy Swimmer
Warm Pool or Warm Swimsuit
Fact: A miserable, shivering child with blue lips will not love swimming.
Solution: Find a pool with really warm water and warm air on deck.
When that just isn't possible... get a wetsuit for kids. They come in all shapes and sizes.
There are different choices for wetsuits.
-Full wetsuit: a body suit with long sleeves and long pants
-Short wetsuit: body suit with short sleeves and shorts
-Neoprene material: thicker makes a wetsuit warmer
-Lycra Rash Guard: not warm but great for sun protection
Wet Suits for Kids
I Hate Swim Lessons!
The Happy Swimmer Checklist
Sometimes trying something new is scary. It takes time to adjust to a new activity.
Could it be something else?
The Happy Swimmer Checklist:
-Is your child tired, hungry, or sick?
-Need to go potty?
-Oops, too late! (Please tell the instructor so the pool can be properly cleaned.)
-Shivering, blue lips? -Read about wetsuits.
-No goggles? Red eyes can really hurt.
-"I don't WANT to wear goggles!", or your child just takes them off. Repeatedly.
Trick: If you wear goggles during the lesson, your child will wear goggles too. I know, they look dorky and leave raccoon eyes. But, if you wear your goggles during two lessons, your child will too with no complaints.
-Swimsuit malfunction? Elastic too tight? Straps falling off shoulders?
-"I don't like getting my face wet."
Trick: You go underwater first-many times. Your hair is going to get wet. No worries. The other parents will follow your example. Make motorboat bubbles, fish face, popping noises, crazy faces. Get you child to laugh while you go under and come up with a smile. When your child's face finally goes in, lay on the praise. Clap, cheer. and laugh like you won the lottery. You'll have a fish before you know it!
-Spending more time waiting on the wall than swimming? Good instructors have small classes and can keep kids moving and intrigued. Swimming lessons should be fun, not boring.
Finally- is the instructor a good personality match with your child? If talking to your instructor is not helping, you can switch classes. Ask other parents about their experiences. Different instructors have different strengths. Be an advocate for your child. You are paying good money for a positive experience.
Leaky Goggles Stink. - Best Kid Goggles EVER: "Finis"
Wearing goggles can improve your swimming experience 100%... if they fit. I think leaky goggles are more annoying than not wearing goggles and having red, stinging eyes. When buying goggles, I really think brand matters. Not all goggles are created equal. Believe me, cheap goggles that leak won't get worn. Goggles that fit can last for years. (Write your name with a Sharpie on the strap for those times the goggles get left at the pool.)
Goggles should stick to your child's face WITHOUT the strap. Yep, just push one goggle (gasket) gently on one eye and do a "Magic Trick". The goggle should stay there with suction only... for about five seconds. Now try it with both sides- still without the strap. If the goggles stuck with one side but not with two, you may need goggles with a smaller nose strap.
Important Goggle Variables:
Nose Strap Size
Sun Protection in the Lenses: built in sunglasses
Size of Gasket
Double Strap in the Back: One strap sits high on the back of the head, one sits lower so goggles are secure.
Color- Not the most important choice for you. For kids- color is most important. : )
Smell- Yep, some goggles smell like fruit...kind of. Again, kids love it.
My favorite brand for kids' goggles is "Finis". Sure my adult swim team goggles are Speedo. For adults, I think there are many more good brands of goggles- many which are available at your local sport store. If you want your child to get the full benefit of those pricey swim lessons, go ahead and get the goggles that fit.
My kids wore these from ages 3-8. They don't leak.
Actually, one 5 year old had a smaller, narrower face and kept wearing the fruit basket. (See below.) The nose strap is smaller on the fruit basket swim goggle.
My babies wore these -all three kids. LOVE them. Great for young toddlers too. The different colors actually smell like different fruit. The smell lasts a while too.
My Kid is the Next Micheal Phelps!
Ready for a Swim Team?
If your child can swim a length of Freestyle and Backstroke, you can consider a swim team. Start with a pre-team to transition out of swim lessons. Kids practice stroke drills and slowly build endurance, while having fun.
Swimming is like any other sport. Teams have different personalities, goals and expectations. Coaches, parents, and team moral can vary so much from team to team. Watch a practice before having your child try out. Feel the "vibe" on deck. Watch the coach. Listen to the kids in the water. Do you see happy, respectful swimmers, or silent unhappy swimmers?
Ask about practice times, mandatory "volunteer" hours (oxymoron?), and mandatory swim meets.
How many kids swim in a lane? There should really be 6 or 7 max. Less swimmers means more personalized help which means improvement. What is the swimmer/coach ratio?
Walk in the locker room. Look around. Inhale. Still want to stay?
Ask around. Do the showers have hot water? Are there enough showers to handle kids post practice?
Are there pool parties? Game days? Fun Relay Days? Short and fun home swim meets?
Are practice times in the middle of "Family Dinner"? Can all of your kids swim at the same time, even though they are different abilities?
How many times are they required to go to practice a week? Is the coach O.K. if your kid takes time off for soccer, baseball, or basketball season? Will you have to pay for swim team when your child is focusing on another sport?
What is the pool temperature? Too cold or too warm? 89 is great for a therapy pool or kid swim lessons. It is very hard to swim fast in a pool that is too hot.
Maybe your child wants to go to the Olympics. Go for it. Just have fun.
Swimming Bag - Leave it packed with dry swim gear.
Leave one bag specifically for swimming lessons. It stays stocked with swim shampoo, soap, comb, diapers, swim diapers, extra suit, goggles, lotion and a plastic bag for wet stuff.
The wet towels and suits go directly into a plastic bag after swimming. After laundering, they return straight to swim bag. Easy prep makes all the difference.
These Speedo swim backpacks last forever -years and years, even after heavy use and laundering. You will actually use all of the pockets for small items. The outside straps on the front of the bag are great for attaching wet gear.
The bigger backpacks are great for carrying beach towels and sweats. The smaller packs are easy on kids' backs. These are worth the investment. (The colors are great too.)
Swimmer's Shampoo and Soap - Skin and hair will feel and smell great after swimming.
Crocs - Essential for public showers and a quick escape to the car.
Pool Toys - Kids love toys in the pool.
Diving for toys is a great way to get comfortable in the water. Diving also builds aerobic strength. The kids learn to feel the water as they pull and kick down.
LOVE these. Toddlers, big kids, and mommies too- have a blast with these toypedos