Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Superhero Swim Instructors

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No! It’s your child’s swim instructor! Swim coaches are not just instructors; they are life-savers. And, as life-savers, they are superheroes, doing the same job that Superman or Batman aims to do. They may not wear red capes or run faster than a speeding bullet, but they are saving children’s lives every day.

By teaching your children how to swim, swim instructors are teaching them to be safer around all kinds of water and situations, from pool parties to beach outings. Children who know how to float, how to swim to the edge of the pool, and how to climb out of the pool can save their own lives. But, really, what saves them is the coaching from their swim instructor. And we all know what a real threat drowning is, especially in our area, as we watch more and more stories of childhood drowning on TV and read them in the newspaper.

But, swimming is not just a life-saving skill; it is a life skill. Think of the countless vacation activities you may engage in that involve water: fishing, boating, canoeing, paddle boarding, surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Children must know how to swim in order to be able to be a part of the fun as they are growing up.

And, many professions your child may choose will require swimming skills and/or will take place near water. Some jobs that require swimming skills are an EMT, fire fighter, the armed services, and the Coast Guard. Ask any parent who does not know how to swim and you will hear how concerned they are about not having water rescue skills. You don’t want your child to grow up without these skills.

And swim instructors are creating some of the superheroes of the future too! Knowing how to swim and swim well will have a significant impact on your child’s choice of careers, living situations, and vacationing. Swim coaches are inspiring children to become swim instructors when they grow up. So, if your child is enrolled in swimming lessons, he or she may live out a dream: to be a super hero one day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Know the Signs of Drowning

Do you think you would know if your child was drowning? You might be surprised. Drowning doesn’t look or sound the way you expect it to. There is often no splashing, screaming, or waving of hands. Drowning can be a silent killer.

About 375 children drown each year within 25 yards of their parent. In some of these cases, 
according to the Centers for Disease Control, the parent is watching the child, but misses the signs of drowning. As a parent, you need to be aware of the warning signs that your child may be drowning.

When a child is drowning, the respiratory system focuses on breathing first, so it may be impossible for him or her to call out for help. A drowning child is not likely to wave for help either. Their arms will probably be extended laterally in order to press down on the surface of the water. Their arms are therefor too busy to wave.
It may even seem that a drowning child is taking in breaths, because his or her mouth will often go above and below the water. Drowning also occurs very rapidly. It may take just 20 to 60 seconds of struggling before a child’s body submerges below the water.
Other signs to look out for:
Hyperventilating or gasping
Head low in the water, mouth at water level or head tilted back with mouth open.
Legs not moving
Glassy or unfocused eyes

Watching your child while he or she is in the water is not enough; you also have to watch for the signs of drowning.

Find out more here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Try, Try Again

Remember my daughter, Ruby's, first swimming lesson at USSA? Well, if you recall, it went swimmingly. So, we were excited for the second lesson. But, was Ruby all smiles and giggles this time? No. Actually, that word about sums it up. "No." That was all she would say to any request the swimming coach made. "Blow your bubbles, Ruby." "No!" "Turn over on your back, Ruby." "No!" Now, there's the child I'm used to at home. 

So, this experience, needless to say, was disappointing. I ran into her swimming coach after the lesson and shared my frustration. She assured me that this phenomenon of the second nightmare lesson is very common. Children can sense things, as we all know. So, they know parents' expectations have been raised now and they have more to live up to. She even recommended that, after the first lesson, parents should not overwhelm their little ones with kudos. Kids do not like to disappoint their parents and often shut down rather than let their parents down. Swimming lessons are also just like any other learning experience. There will be gains and set-backs, a step forward and then a step back. Children need time to absorb all that they are learning.

There are several things we, as parents, can do to help make sure the lesson goes as well as possible:

1. For the first lesson, arrive 20 minutes early so that your child can process everything that is going on at the school.

2. Expect your child will have appropriate behaviors. Talk about what is appropriate in the positive - " Ruby, be sure and talk to the teacher using your words so he/she can help you." If you expect a major fiasco of screaming and tears, you probably will get it!  Besides, who says swimming lessons have to be frightening - not us! 

If your child is having a difficult swimming lesson, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Children are not built to be put in life threatening situations, real or perceived. Never leave your child alone with an instructor. A very scared child can't learn. If a child believes she is in real danger, the brain uses it fear or fight mechanism which will cause cortisol to be secreted,  which can be harmful.

2. Give the swimming coach the full lesson time if your child is not in terror. Often, the child needs time and the teacher needs time to find which one of her teaching tools will work best with your child. 

Remember, here at USSA, your child is enrolled in developmental lessons. The swimming coach will take into account the child's state of mind and will work from the developmental stage he or she is at.

Not every lesson will be perfect, but not every one will be difficult either. So, remember what we tell our children. Don't give up! Try, try again!