Monday, April 30, 2012

"Quickie" Swimming Lessons: A Big Mistake

The following is a letter written by the executive director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, in response to a parent's request for "quickie" swimming lessons:

I heard from the US Swim Academy that you would like to take “quickie” swim lessons. A “guarantee” that your child can roll over or float is not a guarantee that your child will not drown. These lessons merely state that your child can roll over on their back when prompted by the instructor.

There is a big difference between survival lessons (quickie lessons) and water safety lessons. Building skills upon skills in a skills progression that builds one upon the other is the best way for your child to learn, any skill. Just like any other set of skills, like riding a bike or learning to read, you have to start and build your skills level. Once you learn one skill, you repeat and then learn another skill. Think of it like the learning to read. First, you have to learn to say your abc’s, then you learn to recognize the letters, then you learn to start putting the letters together, then your first word is cat. And that takes pretty much all of their first year of preschool. But once they learn these letters, it never leaves them because of the progression of learning. Swimming is exactly the same way.

In order for your child not to panic later in life in any water scenario, they have to have these skill sets ingrained in their memory. I would like to encourage you to rethink the “quickie” solution. Just like in tennis or anything else, you can’t learn any sport/skill in a week. It may take years, but you are building the necessary synapses for your child’s brain to develop into a smarter, more social, more coordinated child.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Cost of Safety

At United States Swim Academy, we can and do reduce the risk of childhood drowning as part of our daily activities. What is that worth to you? Because we often hear that swimming lessons are too expensive. Are they really? If you are willing to spend money on the newest technology or a lavish birthday party for your little one, shouldn’t you be willing to pay the price for your child’s safety?

Invest in your child’s future by completing their water safety and swimming training. Some training is not enough to save your child. Their swimming lessons must be completed if you want to be sure they are safer around water. And these lessons don’t just affect your son or daughter for a short time; completing their training here at USSA ensures a lifetime of water safety and confidence. A party is over in a few hours. An iPod is outdated in a few months. A child’s swimming ability lasts forever.

Something is expensive when it does not deliver value for the money, time, or effort. That is not the definition of our swimming lessons program! We deliver risk-reducing swimming lessons for all children, a pre-swim skill program to increase learning and skill retention, and we offer the lowest student-teacher ratio in Broward County! The risk of drowning is very real in our community. Already this year, four children have died. We are value-packed and we help to prevent the tragedy of childhood drowning.

So, the next time you are planning a trip to Disney or considering purchasing an expensive toy for your little boy or girl, think about the money it costs to save your child’s life here at USSA. Is it worth it? We think so and we know you will agree as well.

3 Water Safety Tips

*This article is taken from

Some experts suggest that you teach your child how to swim as soon as he can walk. So here are some tips for keeping him safe while he learns.

By Stephanie Eckelkamp
© Veer

The next time you take your little guy to the pediatrician, you just might come home with an unexpected prescription for swimming lessons. A new Water Smart Babies program is gaining traction in a few warm-weather states, which is great news considering that children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. We talked with Lana Whitehead, spokesperson for Water Smart Babies and an American Red Cross certified water-safety instructor, about ways to ensure your little swimmers are safe.

1. Start young. “Kids can begin swim classes as soon as they can walk,” says Whitehead. But getting them into water for pure enjoyment (with you holding on tight, of course) can be done as early as 6 months, which can be a great bonding experience.

2. Don't skimp on the safety measures. There are certain “layers” of protection you should implement to create a safe swimming environment for a child, says Whitehead. These layers include swimming lessons, putting up barriers (fencing, pool alarms, pool covers), becoming CPR-certified (for classes, visit, and practicing “touch” supervision—always staying within arm's reach.

3. Get smart. Find a water-safety class for your child at He'll be taught to hold his breath underwater, flip onto his back to float, and swim to the edge of the pool or steps in case he falls in.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Consistency is Key!

As a team we can successfully help our children succeed and learn to swim! The key to successful swim lessons are consistency and repetition. Our children can achieve this with our help.

Our classes are carefully designed to help your child learn to swim. Patterns and repetition are used throughout the lessons. Each class builds on an already learned skill that was introduced in a previous lesson. Why do we use such patterns and repetition? Maria Montessori proved, more than 100 years ago, that children love to practice until they achieve a permanent kind of mastery. Children will not retain what they have learned if it is simply taught once; they need repetition and patterns.

As a parent, you have probably noticed that your child thrives on routine. Sometimes a holiday or trip will cause chaos because your child is out of his or her regular routine. If your child is school-aged, you know they have a certain routine they follow at school which might include snack times, work times and recess. Teachers know that children really crave this regular routine schedule. Knowing what to expect makes them feel comfortable and safe. This is the environment under which children learn best.

If your child misses a lesson and has to re-schedule for a different class time, then they may have a new instructor or a different group of classmates. This can make them uncomfortable and can disrupt their rhythm. We know there will be times when a child is sick or there is an emergency and you need to miss a class. Otherwise, we urge you to be aware of the importance of consistency and early arrival. We need your help with regular attendance and early arrival! Your child will progress so much more quickly. Children who miss lessons fall back multiple classes.

Thank you for being part of the solution to preventing drowning! If you haven't already, reserve your child's spot today! Learning to swim can save a life.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Curve of Learning

Learning to swim requires a complex set of motor skills. For example, there is back floating for babies or freestyle swimming with a rolling breath for the older ones. These skills are difficult and may take time to master. Please do not expect your child to make equal and constant progress during every swimming lesson.

As we learn, we pass through three different stages of learning. In the first stage of learning, the child is wrapping his or her head around the concept and goal of the skill. You can see the child thinking about the individual steps of each skill. This is when the stroke or skill looks tense, awkward and choppy. In this stage, there is much progress and many gains in performance.
In the second stage of learning, the child is starting to sense errors and become more efficient at the stroke or skill. The overall skill will be smoother and more easily completed. The skill has not yet been perfected, but the overall gains in performance will be significantly less than in the beginning stage.

In the final stage, the skill is on its way to perfection. The swimmer will be able to effortlessly complete the skill. They are so good at this stage that they could do the skill in their sleep. Progress in this stage is very little because the corrections are minor.
With swimming, progress is not equal in each stage of learning because it’s not the way our brains and bodies work together. It takes time and much practice to learn something effectively. The swimmer's motivation, prior movements (aka exercise), and athletic abilities also contribute to how fast and well children learn to swim.

Ways to know your child is learning are by:

1. Seeing how well he or she knows the concept of the stroke or skill (i.e. what kind of kicks do we use?....STRAIGHT!)
2. Having the child be able to detect errors in the length that the child just swam (what did you forget?...put my face in before I leave the wall.)
3. Observing more control and coordination in body movements. The movement may not be correct yet, but they know how to move their body to complete the skill or stroke.
4. Watching the child's movement become more efficient once they start to learn the skill. They will also be able to complete more repetitions of each skill or stroke.

Please be patient, our lesson plans are developmentaly based and take early childhood learning patterns into account. Parents should try not to convey anxiety over skill delays. All of our students learn to swim. Some make rapid progress; some take longer!

Your enthusiasm for your child's efforts and willingness is vital in helping your child attain lifelong swimming skills!