Saturday, June 16, 2012

Swimming Fever and Summer Olympics


My kids are crazy about swimming.  They just started the next batch of lessons this last week in fact.  My son wants to be a swim instructor and plans to take the class this fall helping to learn how to teach.  He's only 13 but loves to play and help the little ones in the pool. He also is interested in diving and plans to pursue that as well. My daughter is 15 and plans to take the life guarding class this fall.  She's hoping to get a job at the community center life guarding!  While it's hard for me to believe my kids are even old enough for jobs, I am glad they have chosen swimming as the direction they want to go.  At least while they are young.  They will learn things that will last a lifetime.

Check out this short video of the Olympic pool being built.  I watched it several times, very cool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgmnyBgVViE

I had the pleasure last week of participating in a conversation with Karen Linhart and Jamie Fabos Olsen from USA Swimming.  Also Lindsay Mintenko and Emily Silver, gold and silver medalists in the Olympics for swimming.  It was a blast listening to them and their enthusiasm for swimming is contagious! 

We all know the summer olympics are coming up and the swimming team trials will be aired live on NBC June 25th - June 2.  Won't it be awesome to see who's going to be in the olympics!  I know my family and I are very excited. Fans rank swimming as their favorite Summer Olympics sport.

We're hoping to spread the swimming enthusiasm around to moms and kids. People want to swim, but have questions on how to begin: What level of swimmer am I? What level is my child? What equipment does my child need? Where can I find a place to swim in my area? How do I get started or get my child started in swimming?



 I learned about a fantastic website SwimToday.org. SwimToday.org is an online resource that provides moms with a one-stop shop to get all the information they need to make entering the sport as easy as possible. On the site, you can: find a place to swim in your area, self-assess your ability, and learn the benefits of swimming and fitness.
Benefits of swimming – why should moms get their kids involved? 1) SAFETY 2) FITNESS 3) SOCIAL

SAFETY Drowning is the 2nd-leading cause of accidental death for kids 1-14
Swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 80%

FITNESS
Swimming is a whole-body exercise
A low-impact sport, it is a life-long fitness option

SOCIAL As an individual sport, swimming teaches work ethic and goal-setting
As a team sport (swimming is both!) swimming builds social skills and teamwork


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Here are some questions answered by the team at USA Swimming and Medalists Lindsay Mintenko and Emily Silver:

Q: At what age should I start teaching my child to swim?A: Most places that offer swim lessons begin when the child is six months old, but there are places that do “Mommy and Me” classes as an introduction to water at an even younger age.


Q: What is the right age for kids to start learning swim strokes? Should young kids focus on strokes or fundamentals?

A: It depends on what you are comfortable teaching them. Focus on the fundamentals first, but if they know the fundamentals, you can move on and teach the strokes whenever they seem ready. The goal is for kids to have fun and be safe and comfortable around the water.
Q: How can I give my child the confidence to swim without arm floaties?
A: USA Swimming advocates against flotation devices, because they can give kids a false sense of security. Try to avoid any kind of flotation aid, and get your child in swimming lessons. There is no substitute for professional swimming instruction, and instructors are trained to help kids with their fear of the water and help them acclimate to the water at their own pace.

Q: Should kids be allowed to wear goggles in the water?

A: If goggles help kids when they are in the water, wearing them will not be detrimental.

Q: What are the expenses for swimming lessons and team swimming?

A: It varies by location and club, but a full session of swim lessons (approximately 8 lessons) generally costs about $50. USA Swimming partners with about 525 participating clubs nationwide on their Make a Splash charitable effort, which provides every child in America with the opportunity to learn to swim. Swim clubs on SwimToday.org with a water drop next to their name provide a designated number of swimming lessons for free or at a discounted cost. The distribution of free or discounted lessons is club-dependent, and you can ask your local club about it directly. If expense is a concern, visit SwimToday.org and enter your ZIP code to find out if a swim club in your area is a Make a Splash partner. More about Make a Splash: http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=2092&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en


Q: For kids interested in competitive swimming, what type of time commitment should they expect?
A: Summer league teams require a minimal time commitment, take place during just the summer months and are a great way to get kids started in swimming. Summer leagues are often offered through local YMCAs. The actual club teams usually have two-hour practices each day, which are similar to the time commitment involved in other sports like basketball or soccer. The club finder tool on SwimToday.org will help you locate clubs with competitive swimming programs that fit your family’s needs.
Q: Is there anything kids can do outside the pool to help strengthen their swimming skills in the pool?
A: It depends on the age of the kids. Coaches will probably tell your kids if there are exercises that might help them outside of the pool, but if your kids are younger and just getting involved in swimming, the best thing they can do is enjoy the sport and get involved in other sports. In competitive swimming at an older age, you could add push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups outside the pool.

Q: What about lessons for adults?

A: A lot of the Make a Splash providers are able to provide lessons to adults as well. It’s never too late to start swimming.
Q: What are the health benefits of swimming?
A: Swimming is one of the best all-around exercises out there for toning your body. It is better for your knees than running, and it’s very good for your cardiovascular health. In addition, being active generally sets a good example for kids.
Q: What is your advice to moms of young athletes in general?
A: The most important thing is to allow kids to make their own decisions regarding their sport, and to make sure they enjoy it. Encourage them to try new sports and identify what they love to do, rather than starting them in just one sport from a young age. If they want to take a break from their competitive sport and the intense training, allow them to do so. Burnout is very real.
Q: How can we support the swimmers involved in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials June 25 – July 2?A: Tweet using the #SwimToday hashtag, follow @USA_Swimming on Twitter (where you can also find Twitter IDs for U.S. swimmers competing in the Trials), encourage your friends and family to watch the trials and cheer the athletes on, and host Olympic watch parties using Splash Bash resources from USA Swimming: http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=1611&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en
Don't forget!  U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming will air live on NBC June 25 – July 2.



2 comments:

  1. great post! swimming is a great way to pass the long dog days of summer and be active!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love to swim, even if I am not good at it. When Hannah went to summer camp at around age 5, the only camp open was called "athletic camp." They spent every day at the pool - I told the counselors "Hannah doesn't know how to swim, so please keep her in the shallow end."

    A couple weeks into the summer they had an open house, and to my shock and horror I saw Hannah climb up on the diving board! She jumped into the deep end, her head popped up and she swam to the edge. I was so surprised that she could do that after only 2 weeks!

    And she's been a fish in the water ever since!

    ReplyDelete