Kids Swimming Lessons

Swimming is part and parcel of our lives, from the time we are young, to the time we are in school. It is a completely social activity with immense physical benefits and to not have it in the arsenal of talents is like going through life slightly handicapped. But what we are talking about today is the area of phobias and fears. During a child’s initial mental development, the normal faculties of cognitive thought, rationale thinking and the critical thought process are not available to him or her. They operate their learning based on emotion and the subconscious mind, which is much more exposed and aware at this early stage.

When we reach adulthood, we are fully into a mode of thinking that does not allow such emotional ‘learning’ as easily as it would be if we were children. This is because our internal defence mechanisms have been developed to their full extent. We can think rationally, we can dissect situations and apply thought and memory to them and come out with explanations. As children, these do not happen. They thing and react based on a subconscious level of mental absorption, which often involved processes like association. The only time when this can happen when we are adults is when we experience something as drastic as trauma, which involves such explosive emotions that penetrate the conscious mind and go straight to the subconscious.

When talking about children, they need to develop the association of ‘fun, family and love’ with the water at an early age, which is all the tents of kids swimming lessons. When they are able to do that, then any possibility of them developing a fear of the water is greatly reduced. Because swimming lessons normally involve the involvement of parents and loved ones (especially when it comes to toddlers and early age classes), the association of love is strong and the memories and mental associations that develop together with this is all positive. Fear of the water develops when a child is exposed to elements of danger and discomfort from an early age and the subconscious traps these associations and emotions and carries them to adulthood. This is one of the most tangible psychological benefits of kids swimming lessons and why they are so crucial to proper development. Add to that the obvious physical benefits, and you have a winner.

Preventing Summer Swimming Accidents

If you’re planning on beating the heat with a dip in the pool this summer, you should make sure to follow a few simple safety steps:

  • When you go swimming, swim near a lifeguard if one is available. If you are swimming in an area that doesn’t have one, make sure you never go swimming alone.
  • Seek out any warning signs that might be posted where you’re swimming, and make sure you obey them. While rules may seem irritating and even unnecessary at times, they are there for your own safety and the safety of those around you.
  • If you have any children with you, make sure you keep a close eye on them. Don’t let them wander out of your sight. Even if there are lifeguards around, your child is ultimately first and foremost your responsibility.
  • While it can be relaxing to kick back with a few beers, swimming while intoxicated is a terrible idea. You put yourself and everyone around you at risk. Drink responsibly, and wait a fair amount of time before going into the water.
  • If you’re at a swimming pool, don’t run. You’ve been told this since you were three, but it’s still true. When smooth cement gets wet, it can get very slippery, which can result in you slipping and falling.
  • Learn CPR. It isn’t hard to be certified, and it can save lives. It is the responsible, adult decision to make.

Even if you follow all the safety rules and conduct yourself responsibly and respectfully, you can still be injured while swimming. If you are injured as the result of someone else’s irresponsibility, you deserve compensation. You may want to consider engaging the services of a personal injury attorney.

Slow Swimmer

This beautiful slow swimmer whose beauty and grace for many a morning we caught each others eye as she gently swam on. Soon we became familiar sights, me on the path, she swimming on by, for now she even stopped and waved, tempting me to join on in. As I stood speechless as she swam by I could tell she wanted me to join her, and the next morning I did. I will never forget that summer. That one summer where for four weeks every morn at half past ten we swam together, poetry in motion gliding through the gentle waves. Afterwards we’d rest on a nearby pier and a friendship was forged, but nothing more.

When summer was over we said our good-byes. I was hoping that next summer we could resume our friendship and our morning swim. All through that winter I was hoping for more. When the next summer finally came I’d run down to the lake and jumped on in for at half past ten, hoping to see my slow swimmer once again. I stood there waiting, the water still cool. I kept looking but she didn’t come. A sadness came over me as the clouds came rolling in. I started to swim along the shore again but, this time it was different the loneliness set in. I thought to myself afterwards maybe it was meant to be a once in a lifetime encounter with my mermaid of the lake.

It has been over 50 years since those wondrous days and a long time since I was back down by the lake. But, through all the years I still remember with great fondness the fun we shared. I did find out some years later that my slow swimmer had moved far away and was never able to come back to the lake. But the memory of that one summer has stayed through all these years. I just can’t help thinking what could have been if my slow simmer had come back and at half past ten we’d swim again.

As the years have flown by memories do come back. A kaleidoscope of images flashes now and again. The times of my life where moments of joy as well as sorrow fills my conscious thought. But, none so clear as that one summer where my mermaid by the lake held me captive every morn for at half past ten we’d swim again. Of all the times where I yearned for romance that mermaid by the lake the friendship we’d shared made her memory so sweet and dear.

About Infant Swimming

A major concern is that the chemicals in the pool will harm the infant’s developing lungs. Chlorine’s byproduct trichloramine could be detrimental to a child’s health. In the past, chlorine was though of as a good thing because it disinfected the pool. However, researchers are looking into how chlorine affects children. It is hypothesized that there is a correlation between chlorine and childhood asthma and recurrent bronchitis. Significant concern centers around very young children who are exposed to the aerosols and toxic gases found in the air of indoor chlorinated pools.

Alfred Bernard, a Belgian researcher, has led the most recent studies. He warns we need stricter regulations of air quality in indoor pool areas where infants are exposed. Until more conclusive studies can be performed, it is important to prevent a potential harmful situation. Last year Bernard published a study that linked indoor chlorinated swimming pools to prevalence of asthma in children of various countries.

Generally, trichloramine is not considered a problem in well-ventilated areas. However, pools reduce ventilation to save money on energy costs.

Since children generally swim in shallow pools that are more heavily polluted and often accidentally swallow water, it likely they will consumer more toxic air containing hypochlorous acid and soluble chloramines than other populations. The toxins can get into a child’s respiratory system that is still developing till age 6 to 8.

Since swimming is often recommended to youngsters suffering from asthma, this study comes as especially shocking. Additionally, pregnant women often choose swimming as their preferred form of exercise. Researchers have yet to do many studies on the effect chlorine has on the fetus.

Be Safe in the Water

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the water on a hot summer day. But there is also a lot of chance for a child, or a person can be in danger while in the water beach, pool, or the like. Here are some ways to ensure that your child is danger-proof while in the water. By taking note of these tips, you and your family can truly enjoy a fun day of swimming!

Obey pool rules. There is no substitute for following rules, especially in the swimming pool. Take this tip and you are sure to be on the safe side one step ahead.

Never allow your child to swim alone. There has to be adult supervision that you and your child can count on while the tyke takes a dip in the pool or the beach.

For adults, especially when you wish to swim farther away from the shore, you’ve got to have a swim buddy to accompany you.

Avoid prank plays in the pool like pushing people onto the water, or jumping on others in the pool.

Swim in the areas where the depth is just right for you. In swimming pools, there are indications of the level of depth. Do not go over board by going beyond the level of depth that is right for you.

Do not run in the pool area. Walk slowly to avoid slipping, and to prevent accidentally pushing people onto the pool.

Swimming Techniques

  • Kick harder, pull harder and increase your stroke rate (the frequency of your strokes)
  • Improve your technique

The first option is what 99% of swimmers will do in order to speed up and move faster through the water. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact it’s required if you want to swim at your fastest. Though there is another side to the equation.

Kicking and pulling harder means you’ll tire quicker and lactic acid will kick in sooner than if you weren’t swimmer hard. There is a limit to how long you can swim at a faster pace if you’re working harder in order to swim quicker. There is an easier way to increase swim speed. You can improve your technique.

Improving your technique is not only easier than trying harder, it’s also a lot smarter! Learning to swim with great technique is important because:

  • It reduces your frontal resistance – Resistance is what stops most swimmers from improving. Your body creates enormous resistance against the water, and the faster you travel in water the resistance increases exponentially.
  • You can swim faster for longer – Let’s face it, excellent swimming technique might be hard to achieve if you’re not taught correctly, but I can tell you swimming with bad technique is MUCH harder. Once you learn how to swim correctly, you’ll be able to maintain a faster speed for double or triple the amount of time otherwise.
  • You’ll feel 100x better – If you can master swimming technique swimming becomes incredibly fun because you’re confidence in the water will skyrocket, you’ll be lapping people over and over again and best of all you’ll have loads more energy in the water.
  • You’ll look 100x better – It’s no secret that great swimming technique is awesome to watch. Watching an experienced swimmer glide effortlessly up and down the pool is like watching an eagle in flight. They are graceful, eloquent yet powerful in action.

There are two ways to swim faster. You can try harder by exerting more energy, or you can improve your swimming technique. One is the easy way, one is the hard way. By putting the two together gives magical results which can only be achieved by first learning correct swimming technique.

Swim Way to Fitness

The difference between swimming and weight training is with weight training, you can only work different muscles so much before they get sore. With swimming, you can exercise every day of the week. In the beginning we recommend you go swimming four to six times a week. If you don’t have the time, one or two times a week is also fine. You have to find a way so that it works with your schedule.

Monday, start with long distance swimming. Swim for 30 minutes and see how far you get. Make a note of it. The goal here is to swim further in the specified time every week. When starting out, find a good rhythm for you. You do not want to get burn out in your first week.

Wednesday, go for a high intensity workout. On Wednesdays, you should be focusing on interval training with more focus on speed and time. The idea is to swim as fast as you can for one minute, then slower for two minutes and then go faster again for one minute. Then repeat. Try to swim for at least 30 minutes. Increase the intensity of the workouts as the weeks progress.

Friday, this is medley day. On Fridays, you should try to swim “medley”. This is when you swim using different techniques.

Saturday, this may not be the most fun day. Select the technique you feel needs the most improvement and work on that.

Try this program for six weeks. May find that you want to change to schedule a little bit, that’s fine. Again, make sure the schedule works for you. Also, make sure you eat right and stick to schedule.

Good luck, I wish you all the best!

Essential Swim Training For Women

One Thing at a Time

What happens at home when you do too many things at once? If you’re like us, dinner gets burned, clothes get wrinkled and the phone goes unanswered. Now, let’s take that lesson to the pool;

Ladies, a female swimmer can make huge strides in power, speed, efficiency and endurance by working on improving only one training variable at a time. Called Parametric Training, it’s an important part of a number of many swim training programs. Once one particular variable has been mastered, (for example breathing) the next variable (for example stroke length) can be introduced.

Drink Like a Fish

As Mr Brinkley, your High School Science teacher told you, its scientific name is H-2-O. Commonly known as Water. Look into it, girls;

Fluid intake is essential on dry land. But it’s especially important during swim training and competition. Even though swimmers work in water and may not appear to sweat, there’s still considerable fluid loss in an average session. Have a bottle of fluid with you on poolside and sip regularly throughout a training session and leading up to a swimming competition. Maybe Science class wasn’t such a waste of time, after all.

Train Like Flipper

In the TV show, Flipper was supposedly a male dolphin. Not true. The animal that actually played Flipper was a female stunt dolphin from just off the coast of Texas.

Flipper could swim circles around mere humans (especially men). We might learn from that. Among other benefits, the occasional use of swim fins or flippers can help you achieve a better body position (even though it’s artificial). You’ll learn to become familiar with what this better position feels like. Then, you can try to recreate your ‘flipper’ position later on, during harder training, or swimming competition.

Breathe Easy

Swimming, more than any other sport demands that your lungs provide the rest of your body with oxygen at an extremely high rate and at exactly the right time. Otherwise, you’re going to be breathing-in water (more commonly known as drowning). Effective breathing (inhaling and exhaling) is critical in turning oxygen into the energy needed to move through the water, keeping correct pH levels in your body and enough carbon dioxide for bodily functions.

Try this breathing technique walking on dry land before you try it in the water; when breathing-in, take in a fast and large volume of air. On breathing out, make a prolonged and even discharge of air. Maintain this air discharge throughout the arm cycle of your stroke (for example 3 seconds). At the end of the exhalation phase, give a little puffing action. This will enable you to completely empty your lungs, ready for the next intake. Try it next time on your way to the pool.

Be a TV Star

We almost made it, big-time in Hollywood. But we only had enough bus fare to reach Toledo. Now, it may not be big screen drama, but we can all feature in educational videos. Have your coach or a friend shoot video while you are in the pool swimming and then critique yourself. You might be surprised. And it’s very likely that you’ll be able to improve at least one facet of your stroke.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Strive for optimum, not maximum, performance. Emphasise the things which you can control (so forget about your boyfriend, husband or significant other). You can control only your own performance, so put your emphasis on good technique and personal best times. Improvements in these aspects are attainable by everyone, whereas winning a gold medal is achievable only by a few (including you). You will enjoy training more if you can see yourself making progress. And if those around you are encouraging and praising your achievements.

Exercise via Swimming

Overall, swimming is an excellent form of exercise. Because the density of the human body is approximately similar to that of water, the body is supported by the water and less stress is therefore placed on joints and bones. Since then the buoyancy of the water protects the joints, water exercise is a particularly good choice for people who are overweight or who are prevented from taking part in other activities because of injuries or other physical limitations. Therefore, swimming is frequently used as an exercise in rehabilitation after injuries or for the disabled. It’s also safe for older people and pregnant women.

For most adults, the upper body is the weakest part of the body. Swimming exercises the arms and upper body more than the legs. In competitive swimming, excessive leg muscles can be seen as a disadvantage as they consume more oxygen, which would be needed for the muscles in the arms, although this depends on the swimming style. While breaststroke generates significant movement with the legs, front crawl propels the body mainly with the arms.

Sometimes the swimming consists of swimming laps using a conventional stroke, such as the front crawl; other forms can include different forms of exercise performed in the water, such as water aerobics. Specifically, swimming and other forms of water exercise, such as water aerobics, offer remarkable cardiovascular benefits and are one of the few forms of exercise that work out the entire body. Swimming is primarily an aerobic exercise due to the relatively long exercise time, requiring a constant oxygen supply to the muscles, except for short sprints where the muscles work anaerobically. Particularly, water aerobics put a lot less stress on the knee and hip joints than running or many other aerobic activities. If you put people in the water, they don’t have that pounding and compression on those joints, so they’re able to exercise much more pain free. Moreover, if the water is warm, water exercise is good for people with arthritis.

Swimming and water aerobics are excellent and popular forms of exercise for the elderly, so long as the primary focus for exercise is not to improve osteoporosis.

Open Water Swimming

First of all, breathing on both sides, or bilateral breathing, is a must. (I can hear the groans!!!) Let’s see if you are physically capable. Stand up and twist the upper half of your body to the right and then to the left. Then turn your head to the right and left. SCHEZAM!!! You can learn to breathe to both sides. Why is this necessary? Imagine or perform the following experiment. Find an open space about 400 yards long. Select a target and try to walk straight towards it EXCEPT close your eyes and turn your head, looking to the right every 2 steps. Sneak a look forward every 10 steps. Vision in the water will be even more restricted than this because you may or may not be able to see forward depending upon wave conditions, fog in your goggles or glare from the sun reflecting off of the water. This is also assuming strict concentration upon straight line swimming – not imagining that shadows are sharks and weeds are snakes- which will improve with practice.

Breathing on both sides accomplishes two main goals. It tends to “even out” your stroke so that you will naturally swim straighter. Ha, ha, you already KNOW how to swim straight, right? But that is in the pool. Think of the available cues, lane lines on the side and a black line on the bottom to guide your progress. Open water is much different. In addition to the lack of visual cues available in the pool, the water is colder, there might be some waves and the ‘pool length’ can be as long as a mile!

The second advantage to bilateral breathing is that it will allow you to see to the right and left. When swimming in the ocean, the usual course traverses down and back along the beach. If you only breathe to one side, half of your race will have NO visible cues toward the shore. Watching the shoreline is extremely helpful for straight swimming in the ocean.

Other advantages include being able to breath away from oncoming waves or fumes from boats during escorted swims.

Another skill to practice in the pool is lifting your head to see forward while swimming. The easiest way is to lift your head forward just before taking a breath to the side. I use the forward motion to look and then breathe to the side. Breathing head forward is not suggested since it requires too much energy to lift the head high enough for a breath and will cause slower swimming. Swim head up freestyle in the pool and see how difficult it is compared with head down swimming.

Try to get comfortable with this peek forward in the pool where it is relatively calm. It will be more difficult in open water, especially in the ocean.

How often is it necessary to look forward? That depends upon your straight line swimming ability coupled with and course conditions. Ideally, the less head lifting, the better, but swimming off course is also not advantageous. Initially, try only looking forward every 10 strokes (each arm counts as one).

Temperatures in open water are usually colder and may require a quicker stroke rate, -how much time it takes to complete your arm pull-. In open water, stroke rate is determined by counting once for each arm as it starts pulling through the water.

The rate is determined by counting each arm stroke for one minute (or counting for 30 seconds and multiplying by 2, or counting for 15 seconds and multiplying by 4). The best open water swimmers in the world have stroke rates between 70 and 90 strokes per minute, with women generally on the higher end of that scale. A faster stroke rate will assist in keeping a swimmer warmer in cold water. Have a friend time your rate in the pool. If it is under 60, you may want to work on increasing it to better handle colder temperatures.

Don’t get frustrated if increasing your stroke rate is difficult. People usually do not have a daily activity where their arm muscles exercise ‘aerobically’. Swimmers develop “aerobic arms” through years of training. A runner’s aerobic capability may not automatically transfer to the pool where the arms are the primary motor instead of the legs. Likewise, I can swim comfortably at 80 strokes per minutes after years of training, but watch out if I’m out running; my labored breathing can be heard miles away.

I have one more suggestion with which some coaches may disagree; modifying the stroke recovery. The ‘recovery’ is how a swimmer brings the arm out of the water and back to the front after completing a stroke. Many times coaches teach swimmers to sharply bend their elbow during the recovery. This usually brings the hand close to the surface of the water. This type of recovery may not work as well in waves. A majority of open water marathon swimmers use a straight arm recovery as opposed to a bent elbow recovery. I believe a straight arm recovery works better in waves and also helps reduce strain on the shoulder. The pectoral muscles work more to recover the arm when it is straight while the shoulder and rotator cuff muscles work more to recover the arm when it is bent at the elbow. Experiment with your recovery and see what works best for you, bent, straight, or somewhere in between. All types have been used by fast swimmers and world record holders; Janet Evans being a prime example.

Equipment

The basics, cap suit and goggles are the same with some small variations. A thicker cap (made of silicon as opposed to latex) might be preferable to keep the head warmer. Sometimes a swimming cap does not stay on very well and continually slips. This can be extremely annoying during a race. Try wearing a new cap which isn’t stretched out. Another tip, avoid hair conditioner for several days before a race. Conditioner makes the hair slippery and helps the cap slide. If the water and air are hot, and your hair short, a cap may not be necessary. Tinted goggles which reflect the sun and reduce glare can also be helpful, but they are not a necessity.

A special swimming suit is not necessary although chaffing is a consideration when selecting your attire. Rub marks on the skin from the suit and body parts can occur and are likely in salt water. The more salt, the more rubs. When I swam the12 mile race around Key West, the water was so salty that all of the seams of my suit creates rub marks which was very unusual. Rub areas include the armpit, inner thighs, neck and bust line. Women have more trouble because of their suits at the neck and bust line near the armpit. Men can have trouble where their beard or whiskers rub against their neck and arms. Vasoline, lanolin, bag balm or other grease can be used to prevent chafe marks. For beginners, apply grease in the armpit, neck and inner thigh. If rubs are going to occur in other areas, you’ll find out ‘where’ after a few training swims. Some swimmers use gloves, a rag or even a stick off the beach to apply grease without getting it on their hands. Grease on the hands can easily get on the goggles and obscure your vision. If you are wearing a suit which zips up the back, the zipper at the top often rubs the skin. Sewing a small piece of felt or chamois cloth between the zipper closure and skin will prevent chaffing.

Also, don’t forget sunblock if you are out during peak sun hours. Experiment and find out what works best for your skin. Waterproof does not necessarily mean that the block will work for hours on end. If you are planning a long training swim, try to start early in the morning before the sun’s rays reach their peak.

First open water foray.

Now that you have practiced a couple of skills, you are ready for your first open water swim. Your location will dictate which sites are available. Be smart for your first start. If it is raining and cold with 20 mile per hour winds, put your swim off to another day.

Research the site where you plan to swim. Safety should always be your first priority. Are there lifeguards on duty? If yes, let them know your swim plans; direction, time and/or distance. If not, don’t swim alone. Have someone kayak, paddle, swim or walk the shore along your side. Try to stay close to shore in water depth where you can stand unless the ocean surf dictates otherwise. Find out the water temperature so you will have a better idea what to expect. Are there hazards such as rip currents in the area? What water creatures might be encountered? Talk to the lifeguards or other local swimmers in order to get information about the site.

Have an escape plan from your swim if the weather or your body takes a turn for the worse. This is easy during a shoreline beach swim, just get out and walk back to the start.

Getting In

Take a moment before getting in the water to look and see what’s available for landmarks to help gauge your location during your swim. The sun is the easiest landmark to use if it is low in the sky. If you are swimming a straight course and the sun is directly to your left while breathing, watching it will help gauge your position. If it suddenly appears in front, you’re off course and need to readjust.

The ocean or lake shoreline is another excellent landmark that can be seen on each breath (assuming bilateral breathing is part of your repertoire) and are easy to use when swimming an ‘out and back’ course along the shore.

In a lake, there may be a large tree sticking up above the horizon or a brightly colored house across the lake which can be used to keep aim; finally, a reason to be thankful for a homeowner’s bright pink paint selection. Try to use landmarks which are tall or high above the horizon as opposed to those close to the water level. If a landmark is low, it may be difficult to see if there are waves or swell. Look for tall buildings, water towers or church steeples. While swimming at open water camp in Mooselookmeguntic Lake in Maine -yes, that is the actual name of the lake- mountains in the area provided excellent landmarks.

Swimmers have a saying, “The worst part of workout is getting in the pool.” Getting into open water isn’t any easier. Is better to get in slowly and adjust to the temperature or get in quickly? Try both and see which is preferable, either is acceptable with one caveat. If the air temperature is cold, a lot of body heat can be lost while “getting in” if it takes several minutes. Better to get in quickly and lose less body heat than slowly and get chilled before starting. If the water is cold but the air is warm, and sun is shining, it’s OK to take longer getting in since your body’s not losing heat.

Many open water athletes swim for time rather than distance for their training. While watching your wristwatch, time might seem like it is DRAGGING! This is fairly common. Five minutes seems like twenty. Don’t worry; your ‘time sense’ will improve with more open water practice. Adjusting to swimming for long periods without turns, takes time.

Take it easy and try to enjoy your first open water experience. Check in after the first few minutes, and ask yourself, “Am I relaxed?” If the answer is ‘no’, concentrate on relaxing your muscles and see if that helps your comfort level improve. The mind is your company during open water swims, and its important to keep the “little voice” (sometimes it’s shouting) in your head echoing a positive message. Try to keep the ‘negative’ thoughts (this stinks!) to a minimum. Sometimes it’s helpful to yell out negative thoughts, “This water is FREEZING” or “These waves are horrible!”, and get them out of your system.