Swimming can be leisurely and relaxing, however, developing strength and stamina in the water is important to improve water safety in a multitude of situations. It’s especially important for kids to develop these skills from an early age; this being something they can carry with them throughout their childhood and beyond.
Swimming is also great for overall fitness and health! If swimming can instil a sense of athletic determination in a child, then the value of any lessons they enrol in goes far beyond simply teaching them to swim. Here are some tips to get us all in the right frame of mind:
1. Keep it Fun!
It has to be said right from the off, especially where kids are concerned, swimming should all be about fun and enjoyment! If you do want to encourage improvements in fitness though, start by introducing little challenges here and there. Maybe your kids would enjoy a game of water polo, or a friendly race with brothers and sisters or Mum and Dad. They might enjoy the challenge of having to dive down and pick up various objects from the bottom and bring them back to the side in a certain order or within a certain time limit. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of competitive spirit once they’re confident in the pool, always under direct adult supervision of course!
2. Start gradually
Instructors will always advise to start off slowly and build up fitness gradually. And of course, kids want to have fun before anything else. But as they progress, it does no harm to encourage them to push themselves that little bit further each time. Maybe an extra length of the pool every couple of sessions, or a little extra time when treading water. You’ll be amazed how fast their fitness improves, and it’ll be well noticeable even when they’re swimming casually. For young kids, simply spending time playing in the water will improve their swimming skills and fitness dramatically.
3. Technique is Everything
Swimmers can go their entire lives pushing themselves in the pool but see little aerobic gains from it. Why might this be? Well, coaches of any sport will tell you that good technique not only makes life a whole lot easier and greatly reduces the risk of injury, but it is essential for seeing noticeable improvements in aerobic capabilities. Technique is much better taught than read about, but there are few pointers that could be useful.
A swimmer’s body should be parallel to the surface of the water. A streamlined body causes minimal drag, and allows for greater reach of the arms and full engagement of the back muscles for propulsion through the water. If legs are left to dangle down, it increases drag, making it much harder for the swimmer to achieve any gains whatsoever, other than tiring out the small muscles of the triceps and shoulder instead of allowing for full compound movements.
The head position is also an important factor. Of course, different strokes call for different head positioning, but the swimmer’s head generally dictates the position of the whole body. Incorrect positioning can reduce the range that the body can rotate through the water, and can also lead to difficulty in breathing and gasping for breath. In general, the confidence to submerge the face and look towards the bottom when in the freestyle stroke is something that comes with time and practice, but it’s a great technique that can be encouraged early on. This phase of the stroke is when a swimmer should exhale. Upon needing to breathe, the swimmer should roll their body to one side, and not just lift their head out of the water. This can cause an imbalance in the swimmer’s position in the water and the hips and legs can drop down, creating drag.
Good technique and timing can alleviate many issues and allow a swimmer to focus on making gains in speed, stamina, and fitness.
4. Keep up the Good Work!
Regular lessons will of course help to increase a child’s fitness, but swimming shouldn’t just be consigned to organised sessions. As a child gains confidence and abilities, they should be encouraged to take to the water at every opportunity (providing safety measures are taken into account of course).
As with most things in life, the more you practice, the better you become. Swimming is no exception, and it’s one of the best aerobic activities that anyone can perform. A total-body workout, no less. And we’re talking to parents here, too! Swimming works all the main muscle groups and increases flexibility, stretching the entire body and gradually improving range of motion. Also, because it’s impact-free unlike jogging, you can achieve all the cardio benefits without stressing out your poor joints.
If you’d like to enrol your child in a swimming programme, and start them on their journey to a life of health and fitness and enjoyment of the water, give us a call on 0402 002 902 and book now by clicking here!