Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today's post will be borrowed directly from Bob Hubbard, who is the owner of the Hubbard Swim School in Phoenix, AZ.  He has some very good things to say about how children can feed off of their parent's fears of the water...check it out.......

Are you a nervous swimmer? Are you among the 65% of adults who are uncomfortable if you were in water over your head? Do you swim across your pool with the idea that if you stopped swimming you would sink? 

Here at the swim school, we often find that when we have a nervous child, we can usually find that one of their parents is also a nervous swimmer. So here is my remedy and recommendations for some things for YOU, mom and dad or even grandma or grandpa to practice at home. Please do not feel foolish in admitting your nervousness. Research shows that a parent's anxiety in anything is transferred to the child through subliminal messages in body position, voice inflections or even facial expressions. Do you sit with your arms crossed hunching forward during your child's swim lessons? Have you ever told your child he or she almost drowned when they went under for periods as brief as two or three seconds. Do you scrunch your face up as you work to submerge your child? 

I find that most adults feel propulsion (kicking and arm paddles) is the key to successful swimming. NOPE! We have to learn to work with the water -- not power our way through it. So our keys are breath control, balance and buoyancy. Today, I am going to talk about breath control.

So what I would like to encourage you to do, yes you, my adult readers, is to try the following steps to improve your level of comfort in the water. Be patient and always stay in your comfort zone.

Number 1. Remember, never swim alone. So you need to tell someone who will not discourage you that you are gonna work on some simple steps to improve your swimming. They can sit on the pool deck and watch. 

Number 2. Comfort with your face in the water. This is a crucial first step. As silly as this sounds, stand in the pool where you can place your hand on the side of the pool. Take a breath and place your face in the water. If you are anxious about opening your eyes, get a pair of goggles. They will be worth the price you pay for the comfort they provide. Now, when you have done this a few times and when you can do it without your heart racing, it is time to think about extending your time in this underwater world. 

Number 2 A. If doing the above causes you anxiety, do not worry. Just back up. Stand in the same position with your hand on the side of the pool and lower your body slowly straight down until you chin hits the water and just stay there for a little bit. You can then progress to the point where you can place you mouth in the water, eyes still out. No need to worry about blowing bubbles, just quietly hold your breath. This can take time and I mean 15 to 20 minutes, then stop and come back to it later. 

Number 3. Time underwater. In the swim school with our kids, even some of our upper level swimmers, we have tea parties where we all sit on the bottom of the pool. Research shows that the more comfortable a swimmer is underwater, the better decisions they will make and the easier it will be for them to make progress in swimming on top of the water. A relaxed swimmer is a more efficient swimmer. So the goal would be for you to hold on to the side of the pool and do a number of submersions, where you continue to hold on to the side of the pool and submerge your head with your eyes open and build up until you can stay underwater for five one-thousand, come up count to three and then do it three times in a row. When you are comfortable doing this you can begin to let go of the wall, keep you hand close to it but you can slowly gain the confidence that you will not ingest huge amounts of water. 

Number 4. Look around when you are under there. Now as you get more relaxed take some time to look around the pool. If other people are there watch them. You will most likely find that it is hard to stay under for too long because you begin floating to the surface. Wow, how about that? You are beginning to float toward the surface. 

We have children as young as 18 months who will submerge themselves and just hang out watching the other swimmers in the pool. They will monkey down the ladder to get to the bottom. They will stay submerged for 8 to 12 seconds. Try to slowly build up your confidence. It is an awesome feeling of freedom. Welcome to our underwater world. There are many more joys to come. But practice is crucial. Do not rush it. It has taken you years to build up your anxiety. We can work to overcome them but go slowly.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crying in swim lessons

The photo below was taken a week ago after an episode of the Bachelorette!  I'm a little upset because I just learned that Ashley didn't choose Ben!  I mean seriously!  What's up with that?!  Anyway, I thought the photo would be appropriate for the subject of today’s blog...and if nothing else would serve to lighten the mood! 
It can be common and in some cases completely normal for children to cry during swim lessons.  There are several reasons for this...
  1. Fear of a new situation:  unfamiliar setting, unfamiliar faces, etc.
  2. Fear of separation:  wanting to stay with Mommy and Daddy
  3. Fear of the water because of a bad experience or near drowning
  4. Special circumstances, such as illness (ear aches, tummy aches, etc) or special needs (autism, Asperger’s, down syndrome, etc)
The Bachelorette:  gets me everytime!
Many parents I speak to are quick to pull the plug on swim lessons when they encounter any of the above situations.  But only two of those reasons justifies special you can probably guess, they are 3 and 4.  If your child falls into items 3 or 4, be sure to notify your Site Supervisor ASAP.  
Reasons 1 and 2 are normal and the solution sounds simple:  DON’T GIVE IN!  Acting out the solution at home however, can be super difficult!  I understand the scenario perfectly and I have sympathy!  Let me come home after a long day of work and quickly turn around to get your child ready for lessons.  While you try to get their swim suit on, they start to pitch a fit and tell you that they don’t want to go.  Maybe its the first lesson or maybe its the second.  Maybe they didn’t like backfloating at the last class, but thats not the point.  You hate seeing your child upset and you are tired and you don’t feel like dealing with it.  So maybe you don’t go to lessons that night, or worse yet, you decide to cancel.  Both outcomes are equally detrimental to your child’s development, not only as a swimmer, but as a human being!  By giving in and letting them out of something you know is good for them, you are actually teaching them several bad habits:
1.  Its okay to quit when things get hard
2.  If you don’t want to do something, all you need to do is pitch a fit and you won’t have to do it! 

Situation 1 can result in a child growing up unable to keep commitments.  Situation 2 normally only leads to worse fits.  If you let your children out something the first time, it will only be harder to get them back the second time!  I think we can all agree that the 2 scenarios above are not lessons that you want to convey to your children!  If that is not an easy pill to swallow, think of it this way...
Would you let your child quit school if they were scared on the first day?  Would you never teach your child to ride a bike because they were afraid of falling?  Most parents would answer “No” to all three questions.  Well none one of those things (school, riding a bike) could potentially save your children’s lives one day!  I could be wrong, but I've never heard of algebra related fatalities.  Learning to swim is THAT IMPORTANT.  I am not saying this to keep your children at OUR Swim School...I am saying this so that you keep them in swim lessons somewhere (anywhere really!) until they know how to swim without assistance.  

Swimming is not only a life saving skill.  It's also a just plain life skill that opens up a whole world of possibilities to you and your children!  Think back to all of the times you went to a beach, lake, swim party, or swam on a swim team.  Now think about what your life would have been like if you never got to experience those things because you didn’t know how to swim!  Maybe you don’t know how to swim and so you missed out on all of those opportunities.  Do you want your child to miss out on them too?  
If you couldn’t already tell I’m just a little bit passionate about swimming!

Look the whole point of this little blog entry is this...
We deeply care for every single child that comes through our program and we are willing to work with you, no matter what your situation or needs are!  If your child is having a rough time adjusting to swim lessons, it is completely normal!  I myself was a screamer back when I first took lessons!  But let us know before you decide to drop.  We have people available whose only jobs are to make sure you are happy with lessons:  your Site Supervisors:  Myself, Carrie, and Josh.  Don’t be shy, we’re here for you!  We know it can be tough to get your kids here some days, but just get them through the door...we will take care of the rest!  

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome Swimmers!  

My name is Matthew Reedy and I am the Swim Lesson Director for Gold Swim School in Woodstock, GA.  I have decided to start a blog so I can better communicate with my swimmers and swim parents!  I will use this space to answer FAQ’s, share my feelings on certain subjects, and post articles relevant to swim lessons.  So hopefully you all will check it regularly and it will serve as some benefit to you!  Of course, I guess that all depends on me remembering to post regularly!  Anyway, I hope you decide to follow the blog and enjoy its contents.

Check back soon for updates!  Oh just a heads up...I sometimes will keep things pretty light and I rarely ever proofread, so please excuse any grammatical errors (hopefully none of you are English Professors)!  


Matt (the stunningly handsome guy to the left)

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