5 Tips for Summer Swimming Success for Parents

If you missed our post on Katie's Kickers Swim Lessons, check it out here. We started about 10 weeks ago, and I've seen so much progress! We have gone from from crying getting in the pool to leaping in with a full smile! Katie was kind enough to put together a post for us on swimming success ideas for the summer. Check it out! If you're interested in starting lessons with Katie, you can find her on Facebook or email her directly at katieskickers@gmail.com

For a child, learning to swim can feel like an adult learning to skydive. The rules of gravity are suspended, and this foreign place can be a fearful experience for new learners. Swimming is learning to balance oneself in a new environment. A good instructor will gently bring the child outside his or her comfort zone each lesson and towards personal achievement. The gradual path is most often the most successful in this arena. Here are some suggestions that can assist parents in preparing their children for a successful summer of swim lessons.  
01. Avoid Floaties
These devices actually retard a child’s progress for proper swimming. Though parents use these with good intentions, the problem lies in the fact that floaties are designed to keep the child vertical in the water, and a bent leg kick is then developed to navigate around the pool. When floaties are taken off, the child instinctively tries to kick the same way, and this kick forces her down under water where even greater fear sets in. Children who have not used floaties tend to learn about two to three times faster than the floaties kids. Not surprisingly this disclaimer is never found on the carton of floaties at the store.
02. Pre lesson preparation-
In order to protect swimmers from infections and communicable diseases, pools maintain high levels of chlorine. To avoid unnecessary stomachaches, limit dairy (eg: milk, yogurt) and acids (eg: berries, tomatoes, and citrus) for 30 minutes before and after the pool session. To guard children from the harsh glare of the sun, long sleeved rash guards are best, followed by all natural sunscreens (eg: Blue Lizard or Beauty Counter). Do not apply sunscreens between one’s eyebrows and hairline since it will leak into the eyes and can burn. Hair worn longer than one’s shoulders should be tied up in a braid or ponytail to keep long strands out of the swimmer’s eyes and to keep the pool filter clear.
03. Keep the water temperature warm-
One of the most essential swimming lesson tips: the pool needs to keep the water at 86 degrees minimum but closer to 90 degrees is ideal. Because of the liquid medium, a pool feels about 10 degrees cooler than air temperature to a child. A 90 degree pool is like 80 degree air. The focus should be on learning well, and shivering and blue lips make for less effective retention.


04. During lesson time, make sure things are kept fun and playful.

An important swimming lesson tip: Children’s attention spans are short, so keeping them engaged with water toys and skills work wonders for the lesson. When it comes to effective teaching, it’s 75% enthusiasm and 25% educated skill. Finding a good personality match between child and teacher can catapult learning forward dramatically. Likewise, distractions and excessive noise or stimulus in the environment inhibits learning. This is why some parents opt for private or semi-private lessons rather than public group lessons, even though it can be a great social scene. Trust of the water and building an individual’s confidence is built more easily in a less crowded pool.

05. Post lesson practice- Practicing can help children to feel at ease in the water. The calmness and enjoyment they feel will allow them to fully grasp the techniques their instructor is teaching them. In the end, a skilled swimmer receives the benefit of a lifetime of water fun.
Have fun with pool toys during bath time. Let the swimmer play with small pool toys during bath time. Use this time to allow them to get familiar with some of the teaching tools used during swim lessons. Bath time is a great place to introduce goggles for fun games to explore the depths of the sea for sunken treasures. Timid swimmers can easily reach toys without needing to submerge in the water and work towards being comfortable with their face in the water. Quality Goggles have non-adjustable nose pieces so there is one connecting part around both eyes and across the nose and Two straps around the back of one’s head (eg: TYR Swimple Kids or Speedo Hydrospeck Jr).
Submerging and breathing. Most children are not big fans of getting water on their faces but breath control is a key component to most all more advanced swimming skills. Practice putting the swimmer’s face in the water and expel air to create the bubbles. If they are nervous, show them that they can start by just putting their mouths into the water, easing them into it. If they can master this tip, they will have learned some breath control and gain more confidence when it comes to getting up for air safely
Show your kids examples of positive swim technique. Sit down with your child to watch a few videos before and after their lesson and look at the different strokes. Even early on, it can be beneficial to their swim development to talk with them about proper head position, keeping a straight spine, and correct arm positioning. It’s important for kids to see someone else exhibiting true form.
ALL children in lessons learn to swim eventually; just as all children learn to walk, some get it a little sooner, some a little later, but all do. Enjoy the process and enjoy the child’s achievements along the way. A new arena of play is opening up for them and the whole family to enjoy. Let water learning be a safe and enjoyable experience and the rewards will last a lifetime.

Thanks Katie! Hope you have a happy and safe summer everyone!