3 Ways to Prepare for Swim Season

Jan 16, 2015, 15:24 PM by

There may still be snow on the ground, but summer will be here before we know it. That means it’s almost time to start planning for all of those typical summer activities: camp, swim lessons, sports, travel, etc. The pool is always a popular destination for many families during the summer months, which brings up an important question: Is your child water safe?

Here are three things to consider as the summer months approach.

It’s never too early to enroll your child in swim lessons.

ceo-letter-may-poolLate winter is an ideal time to water-proof your kiddo. That way, when the clouds part and the sun shines, your little one is all set to dive in, and you aren’t scrambling to find lessons at the last minute.

Whether it’s their first time in a pool or they’re interested in joining a summer swim team, it takes time for children to learn and develop safety skills and become comfortable in the water—much longer than a week or two. It may take months or even years before some kids are comfortable going underwater, blowing bubbles or floating on their backs. It’s best to allow plenty of time for your child to learn and practice these skills before heading off to the pool or beach a few months down the road.

Be consistent.

Once your child begins swim lessons, it’s important to attend consistently for an extended period of time. Most aquatic skills—like treading water, breath holding or kicking for example—are not translatable on land. There are few, if any, motions on land that simulate these kinds of movements. If kids are not in the water practicing these skills consistently, they will quickly lose the muscle memory. Signing up for a few lessons in January is great, but if the child doesn’t get in the water again until June, most of their progress will be lost. Getting in the pool one to three times a week in the months leading up to the summer season will go a long way in building strength and confidence in the water.

Face your fears.

Whether it’s simple skills like blowing bubbles underwater or more advanced skills like swimming laps, the more youngsters can practice and repeat these skills, the more comfortable they will become. It’s especially important to practice skills that the child is less comfortable with, like back floats for example. A lot of beginning swimmers find back floats scary and want to avoid them at all costs; unfortunately, avoiding things you’re not good at or comfortable with will not help you improve. Encourage your child to work hard on their strengths and even harder on their weaknesses.

 Emily Sampl is a YMCA of Boulder Valley aquatics staff member and freelance writer. 

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