Tag Archives: learn to swim

Attention Bloggers! SwimWays Review & Giveaway Opportunity

We’re looking for blogging parents with children meeting the below size requirements to review our Sea Squirts PFD life jackets. We will also consider swim instructors/water experts. If you would like to host a giveaway with your review we will be happy to supply a PFD as a prize and ship it to your winner free of charge (would need sizing and gender information of course!). This opportunity is open to U.S. residents only excl. Alaska and Hawaii (and any other non-continental territories).

Please review the size chart below to see if your child(ren) would be a good fit!

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Looking good? Read on!

SwimWays Sea Squirts PFDThe SwimWays Sea Squirts PFD is a US Coast Guard Certified Type III personal flotation device (PFD). It’s great for boat trips, visiting the lake, the beach, or even the pool. This cute PFD is also a great way to introduce your child to the water as part of the learn to swim process. Here are just some of the reasons we know you’ll love it:

  • US Coast Guard Certified Type III Personal Flotation Device.
  • Buoyancy Technology allows for successful balance of a child’s center of gravity, giving them greater control and stability when swimming.
  • Quality neoprene outer cover and inner fabric liner for extreme comfort.
  • Heavy-duty zipper.
  • Cute flexible fins are appealing to kids and they naturally fold flat so they can sit comfortably in a boat or chair.

If you’re interested in this opportunity please email marketing@swimways.com no later than July 26, 2013 and include your child’s size and their gender (if you have more than one child, please include the size and gender of each so we can send you appropriate PFDs). Please feel free to share this post with other bloggers in your network who you feel may be a good fit for this opportunity.

All blogs will be reviewed for post and content quality. We’re looking for authentic posts from those who love to take pictures and/or videos of products in action, a good social media presence is also desired but not necessary.

We look forward to hearing from you!

- The SwimWays Marketing Team

Choosing a Formal Swim Instructor

by Mario Vittone

Though I am embarrassed to admit it, I have never been able to help much with math homework.  Sure, I’m a grown man and should know a few things, but advanced mathematics isn’t something I was ever good at.  Regardless of my grasp of the basics, I am far out of my depth when it comes to anything beyond geometry and basic algebra. So when it comes to helping the kids, my wife and I call in a pro (a local math teacher who tutors on the side) – and I stay out of the way. This is a good idea.

Likewise, you may be comfortable introducing your kids to the water and teaching them to relax and float, but advanced swimming lessons are simply more than you can handle.  That’s okay. If breath control and proper stroke technique have you scratching your head like – well, me with polynomial long division, here are some fundamentals for finding professional help.

1. Assess their commitment to safety and professional certification

Anyone serious about working with children in the water will have taken the time to get certified in CPR and first aid. At minimum, any swimming instructor should be certified in first aid, CPR, and lifeguarding. Another certification to look for is WSI or Water Safety Instruction.  This is the American Red Cross’s designation of a swim instructor.  You should have no hesitation in asking to see their credentials and a good instructor will have none in showing you them. 

There are other professional affiliations and training certificates that you may see, including affiliation with the U.S. Swim Schools Association. Association with a professional organization doesn’t guarantee perfection, but it does let you know that the school or instructor you are considering takes their profession seriously and is working with other professionals to improve their craft, and member schools are rated for their experience and commitment to the continuing education of their staff.

2. Understand their approach to instruction

Ask the instructor, what is your approach to swim instruction?  What do you try to accomplish?  What you are looking for is an instructor who works to build fundamentals and build up skills progressively. You’re listening for words like “fundamentals” and “progression” and “developing confidence” when asking questions about the way they teach.

Be wary of any guarantees for how fast or slow your child’s skills in the water may develop. Experienced instructors understand that children are different and will have their own pace when learning to swim.  That doesn’t mean that group instruction is better or worse than one-on-one lessons, but you want to be sure that swim instructors have an appropriate appreciation of your child’s individual needs.

Choosing a formal swim instructor by Mario Vittone

3. Watch them with other kids

I know I have discussed the importance of being there and being comfortable with your children in the water, but sometimes your presence can distract them. At certain ages, kids learn faster, stay focused longer, and even complain less when mom and dad are out of sight.  Some instructors have parents watching from a clandestine spot, and this is just fine. You should, of course, be able to watch lessons before you commit.  When you do this, you are looking for some very specific things.

You want an instructor or instructional team who appears patient and looks comfortable interacting with children the same age as your child.  You want to see if the students look engaged or bored.  Are they excited to be there and having fun, or do they look like it is drudgery?  While more fun equals more learning, don’t be too put off if the older kids look like they are doing some real work. What you are looking for as much as anything is the appearance that students like the instructors and vice versa.

The American Red Cross recommends no more than ten students for every instructor, so have a look at class sizes as well.  Again, group instruction isn’t a bad thing and it can even be preferable at times to one-on-one instruction. Children can gain confidence from watching others their age swimming alongside. But, too many kids at a time is hard to manage on dry land, much less in the water.

4. The classroom matters

Nothing takes the fun out of swimming like chattering teeth in a pool that is too cold.  Blue lips and shivering kids are a good sign that you should look somewhere else. The clarity and quality of the water are important as well. Water quality for your home pool is equally important for any pool where lessons are held.  It matters for the safety of the kids and for the quality of the learning that will go on when they are there.

Burning eyes from improper pH levels can ruin a lesson quicker than anything, and you can forget the fun factor if lessons = discomfort for your kids. A properly run pool will look and smell clean and clear. If it isn’t a place you would love to swim, your kids won’t either.

5. Reputation

I have several friends in the business of providing professional swim lessons and all of them are proud of what they do.  When you ask them for references (and you should, of course) a good instructor will be thrilled to hand them over.  You can ask the parents you see when you visit, but you also want to hear from the vets, whose children have been to the school and moved on.

My good friend Johnny Johnson of Blue Buoy Swim School in Tustin, California has taught generations of children and has a reputation spanning decades. Six of his students have competed in the Olympics! You should be so lucky to have a school like his nearby, but don’t be afraid of up-and-comers with a good reputation and the right credentials. Schools like Johnny’s have instructors who learn from the masters and move on to start their own schools in other markets.  So if a friend of yours recommends a school that is maybe a bit too far from your home, you should ask them for a professional reference for an instructor in your area.  Believe me, they’ll know who else is out there and will give you good advice.

Consider the five things listed above, ask good questions, and watch the instructors while they work. You’ll be well on your way to finding an instructor or swim school that is right for your child. In the end, you are looking for a place and for people that will help your child learn a skill for life. I don’t think it is a no-brainer decision, but it shouldn’t be as hard for you as trigonometry is for me.

Stay safe, have fun, and as always, I’d be glad to answer your questions in the comments below.

Mario Vittone - Water Safety Expert

Mario Vittone is a nationally recognized expert on water safety. His writing on aquatic risk and drowning prevention has appeared in magazines, websites, and newspapers around the world. Mario is a former Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer and instructor and has lectured on boating and water safety across the United States. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation.
Mario’s Blog | Facebook Page

Pool Toys for Water Confidence

Mario Vittone - Water Safety Expert

Mario Vittone – Water Safety Expert

Water safety expert, Mario Vittone, has written a special feature article for our main website called Pool Toys for Water Confidence. Did you know that the best way to build confidence in the water is through play? In his article Mario explains how water fun helps children develop their swimming ability and build water confidence, he also gives some pointers on what pool toys to use to get started.

“Though I grew up on summer swim teams and went to more than my fair share of swim practices, I believe a great deal of my confidence and ability in the water was developed not when I was “learning” to swim – but rather when I was just playing in the water. I was learning how to be a better swimmer and didn’t even know it was happening.” - Mario Vittone

Click here to read the full feature article by Mario on SwimWays.com

Preventing and Overcoming Apprehension of Water

by Mario Vittone

To become a swimmer your child has to first want to be in the water. Some children develop apprehension towards swimming that can stop their progress. To overcome this apprehension of water, you have to understand why it may be there in the first place, and then work to develop trust with your child where water is involved.

Parents should know that outright fear of water (aquaphobia) – characterized by screaming, panic, and avoidance of all contact with water including baths – is a situation that requires professional help. But general unease around the pool is something that parents can address.

Most children are naturally drawn to water, but there are several ways that apprehension can creep in. A child who is uneasy around water usually has a reason. Here are some examples of situations that make early swimmers not want to even try:

Your Apprehension

“If mom is afraid of the water, maybe I should be, too!” Children pick up on your apprehension of water first. If you aren’t a good swimmer and it doesn’t look like you are having fun, it’s going to be hard to convince your child that they should get in there with you. Non-swimming parents need to take lessons before trying to teach their children how to swim. I’m not suggesting that you have to become a fully qualified swim instructor (though that couldn’t hurt), but at least get to a place where you are comfortable and a strong swimmer before being responsible for your child’s introduction to the water.

Early Experiences

If an adult ever told a child, “I won’t let go,” and then let go of them in the water, that child will find it harder to be trusting in the pool the next time. Early childhood experiences in the pool should be fun and easy. Your toddler doesn’t need to swim on their own or learn to float on their first (or even tenth) day in the pool. What they need is to feel secure, to have fun, and to learn to enjoy the water.

Make sure these early exposures are about fun and play and always be right there to help them and support them if they need it.

Dad and baby in the water

Baby Steps for the Babies

If your child doesn’t want you to take them out into the pool, don’t force them! Dragging them out against their will might not be the best idea. Instead, let them simply sit on the edge, or on a shallow step and play. Stay close and make the experience easy and fun.

Next, you can play games with the water. Splash and play with the water yourself first, and see if your child will mimic your behavior; splash water on your arms, and then your shoulders, and eventually on your face and head. You can use a plastic cup to pour the water on your head, showing your child that it can be fun.

As they get more comfortable, step things up and encourage them to splash you or have them pour the water on you and then themselves. These gentle and unforced interactions with you can build their trust and increase their comfort with you in the pool. Remember, there is no hurry and no need to pressure the child to go further. Just keep having fun and making the water about play, and slowly the apprehension should fade.

Stay Close and Be Supportive

Remaining within arm’s reach of your child (touch supervision) is vital for safety and also critical for trust. This is where the use of flotation devices like the Sea Squirts Swim Assist Vest can really help. They can make your child feel more at ease and they are fun for kids to wear. Remember, you want the water to be about fun for your child, and the right support can help the apprehensive swimmer venture with you out into the water.

Another way you can expose your child to the world beyond the edge of the pool is to pull them through the water on a small raft or even a SwimWays Kickboard. Have them hold on as you pull them through the pool and let them enjoy the ride! If you said you wouldn’t let go, then don’t let go. Just be there with them and make the experience positive.

SwimWays Sea Squirts Swim Assist Vest

It Doesn’t Have to Happen Today

Remember, there is no rush, all progress towards confidence is good, and no step is too small. Each push forward is gentle and the things they overcame earlier should be reinforced. Don’t make the work an all-day affair; end each day’s lesson on a positive note and talk about how much fun they will have the next time they swim. Tell them, “Tomorrow you can go even farther!”

A child’s apprehension around water can definitely slow progress when learning to swim, but it can be overcome with a gentle and unforced introduction to all the fun that can be had in the pool. You don’t need to be overly concerned or put pressure on them. Just develop their trust as you help them experience water in a way that is fun and makes them look forward to trying again tomorrow.

Mario Vittone - Water Safety Expert

Mario Vittone is a nationally recognized expert on water safety. His writing on aquatic risk and drowning prevention has appeared in magazines, websites, and newspapers around the world. Mario is a former Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer and instructor and has lectured on boating and water safety across the United States. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation.
Mario’s Blog | Facebook Page