Knowing how to swim is an essential life skill for every child. If your little one is keen on swimming lessons, here are some useful tips to clear your doubts about the sport
By Sahana Charan
Who can deny the unique benefits of water? A swimming pool is an ideal place for parents and children to bond, get adequate exercise and have unlimited fun. The bonus is that it helps you get fit and stay calm. In fact, researchers and health experts have often spoken about the major health and well-being benefits of taking swimming lessons.
A study commissioned by Swim England in June last year and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that swimming reduced the risk of death by 28 per cent. The study also found that swimmers live longer, and swimming helps older people stay mentally and physically fit for long. Another study points out that swimming reduces the risk of drowning in children by 88 per cent.
“You can start taking your children to a swimming pool even when they are just a few months old, to check how they react to water. When parents take their kids to the pool at an early age, they get comfortable and overcome the fear of water, if any. So, when you enrol them in formal classes they may adapt easily,” says Madhubala, Bangalore-based swimming instructor and fitness expert.
Here are some important pointers Madhubala gives for parents –
1. By the time your child is four, it is a good idea to get her well-acquainted with water and by six years, she can start formal swim lessons.
2. Check if your child is interested. If he is petrified and does not want to even try swimming, give it some time. Try some fun activities in water to help him overcome his fear.
3. Go slow. Hurrying your child or forcing him to learn too much, too fast can be counterproductive. He might become averse to attending swimming classes.
4. Let your child’s time in the water be an enjoyable experience. In the initial days of learning, a parent can accompany the little one in the water, to make her feel comfortable.
Do your research – Is the swim centre that you have chosen suitable for your child? How do they clean the water? Is the management maintaining the right pH balance in the water? What kind of maintenance activities are taken up? Get all these queries answered. It is a good idea to get detailed information about various coaching centres, and then choose the best one for your child.
“Parents should check the trainer’s certifications and what kind of training the coach has received. It is essential for the trainer to have good technical knowledge about strength training and other aspects of fitness,” adds Madhubala.
Begin With the Basics – Get your child comfortable with water by splashing it on her face during bath time. After that, as a first step, enrolling in a vacation swim camp will help. Even if your child is interested in taking up competitive swimming, let her get thorough with the basics and then go for advanced lessons.
Get the Right Swimming Gear – Most swim centres will give clear instructions on the gear your child will need – swim goggles, swim cap and a body suit or swim top and shorts, whichever your child finds comfortable. Ensure that you buy the right fit – the gear should not be too tight or too loose for your child.
Build a Rapport with the Coach – Most parents hang around the swimming pool when their child is in the water, so use this time fruitfully to build your rapport with the trainer. This will help you know how your child is progressing and his specific needs. Help your child to build a rapport and have a comfortable relationship with his coach.
Parents should encourage children to make swimming an essential part of their lives. One can never over-emphasise the benefits of this activity. Children not only master an important skill but also learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
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