My sister Linda has a son Randy who is on the swim team in high school. I went to watch him at a meet recently, and it was thrilling to see him fearlessly plunge into the water as the race started. I thought to myself that I was so glad she had started him on swimming lessons early.
Confidence around the water.
Randy wasn’t always so bold around the water. A shy and thoughtful child, when they introduced him to the family pool, he hung back and wasn’t too sure about the whole thing. Linda worked with him to get him used to the water, and several years later started him on swimming lessons. At a family barbeque, I was amazed at the transformation. “Aunt Kaitlin,” look what I can do, he screamed, as he started across the pool in with a really strong crawl stroke. He popped up with a joyful look on his face as I clapped for him. He was a totally different child in the water.
A lifetime skill.
Linda laughed at the expression on my face, nodding at how much Randy had improved. “When he was so hesitant around the water at first, I thought I needed to really get him past that. After all, he was learning a skill that would benefit him for a lifetime.” I agreed. There are so many places – at the lake, at the beach, in the community pool – that people are around the water, it’s important that they be able to function around the water.
Best taught by a professional.
Randy started on swim lessons fairly early, and Linda said having an instructor teach him was the best way to do it. She had started his water training, but laughingly said “Just because I can swim, doesn’t mean I can teach swimming.” Randy was pretty rambunctious as a child, and she said that she was amazed at how quiet and attentive he was during swim lessons. The teacher was an authority figure who handled himself very confidently, and the kids really minded him. (She wished the teacher could come over when it was time to clean his room). He really retained what he had learned.
The practical side – safety. I read an article on the site CDC.gov which stated that “formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88% among young children aged 1 to 4 years, who are at the greatest risk of drowning.” That was a pretty unequivocal statement, and got my attention. I mentioned it to Linda, and she had seen the same article in her research. “That’s why I started lessons for each of my children as soon as they were at the recommended age. I wanted them to be safe in the water.”
Here are some resources with great information about young children and swimming:
The health benefit.
Linda really believes in the health aspect of being in the water. Since swimming is such a physical activity, and requires the coordination of both arms and legs, it can help a child develop and grow stronger. It can help with motor skills and basic coordination. The child is forced to develop thinking skills as they work to learn the swim strokes. As they grow, swimming can provide a low impact way to stay in shape. As I watched Randy shoot up and down the lanes, I could certainly agree that he was in great shape because of swimming. I thought of trying to swim like he did, and it made me resolve to get back to the lap lanes at the pool.
As we clapped and cheered when Randy won his heat, I leaned over to Linda and said “you did good with those swim lessons, girl.” She just smiled and nodded.
About Our Guest Author: Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com, because she wanted to further her passion for green living and an eco-friendly lifestyle. She currently lives in Pennsylvania, and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking and enjoy nature. She is also working on another big project – her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.