In South Africa there are so many children who drown every year that every child must learn to swim as early as possible. Getting your child waterborne is a priority as it can save his life. Swimming also offers great physical and psychological rewards for all children and adults.
Water is a gentle, soothing, relaxing medium and the benefits gained from swimming improve mood, fitness and overall health and well-being. Other benefits of swimming include:
- Swimming strengthens muscles and joints
- It builds lung capacity – especially good for asthma sufferers
- Increases fitness
- Swimming encourages babies to start to cross their midline and to develop other physical skills
- It improves co-ordination
- Swimming builds tone in children – particularly good for those with low muscle tone
- It improves balance
- Swimming helps to heal Injuries – a soothing and weightless weight to work damaged or unused muscles
- It allows children with disabilities to enjoy physical activity
- It improves spatial awareness
Teach your child to swim without a fuss
- Choose a swimming school or teacher with a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.
- Make sure your child isn’t cold or uncomfortable in the water.
- Try to ensure that the teacher and your child are well matched.
- Try not to miss lessons as each lesson builds on the previous one and gives continuity.
- Don’t push your child or permit a teacher to force your child to do things he doesn’t feel happy doing.
- Get the whole family to paddle, swim and splash about in the water so your child gets to swim without the constraints of a swimming ‘lesson’.
- Don’t stop lessons if your child becomes afraid of swimming. Rather, build his confidence by working through the fear and proving to him that he can overcome it.
How to choose a school
It’s often a good idea to ask other parents where they are taking their children to swimming lessons. You can also ask for recommendations at your child’s school or at your local gym. But you must be happy that there’s a caring and nurturing atmosphere at the school. If the general vibe is positive and other children are happy to swim there, it’s a good sign. Nevertheless, there are more formal and serious things that you must look for in a trustworthy swimming school:
- The school must be accredited by Swimming South Africa (SSA).
- The water must be clean and warm. There must also be signs up saying which end is deep and which shallow, unless it is a teaching pool of one depth only.
- Children must have a way of supporting themselves around the edge of the pool. This also helps them move around the pool safely when they first learn to swim.
- There must be nothing hazardous around the pool, such as pool chemicals within reach of children.
- There must be clean, well-kept toilets and changing facilities at the pool.
- When you register your child with the school, they must ask for all your relevant contact numbers.
- If your child has any medical conditions, you must inform the school.
- Above all, you and your child must feel relaxed and comfortable at the swimming school.
If you don’t have a swimming school in your area, you can now meet online with swimming teachers and other parents to discuss various aspects of your child’s swimming journey through www.swimsavvy.co.za
Swim Savvy also recently published their first in a series of interactive journals to support young children through their swimming journey. The Swim Savvy ‘I can swim’ Progress Journal for Beginner Swimmers is a great interactive book that includes water-safety guidelines. You can buy your copy for only R55 via their website.