Swimming

  1. Winter swimming lessons: why are they important?
    Winter swimming lessons: why are they important?

    When the temperature drops through the winter months, it can be tempting for parents to stop taking their infants swimming until the hot weather returns.

    A recent survey by children and baby swimwear specialists Splash About found that over a quarter (28%) of parents take their toddlers swimming only in summer. However, continuing regular lessons throughout the year—regardless of how gloomy the conditions are outside—is crucial to avoid babies wasting any progress they had previously made in the pool.

    What are the benefits?

    The Splash About survey also discovered that one in ten (10%) parents take their babies swimming most of the year but avoid the pool in winter.

    When toddlers are in the process of learning how to swim and have a break over winter, returning to the pool can not only be an unnerving experience, but can damage their confidence and possibly give them a fear of water. From as young as eight months old, children can quickly develop a hatred for being in the water and become afraid of swimming, even if they had formerly enjoyed it. This is often referred to as the ‘water wobbles’.

    Bernadette Spofforth, Managing Director of Splash About, said: “Until swimming becomes second nature to the child, it’s vital they continue practising so they can develop their skills.

    “A break is likely to disrupt their routine, slow down the process and lead to them forgetting everything they had previously learnt. This can be extremely frustrating for the child.”

    Splash About’s study also revealed that 13% of parents take their toddler swimming on sunny or warm days only. In summer, it’s easy for infants to remain active as they are constantly running around outside in the hot weather. In winter, however, swimming is a great form of exercise, keeping their energy at a consistent level without them having to go outside and face the dull weather. Swimming lessons will also be unaffected by any changes in the weather, unlike outdoor sports.

    Noël Janis-Norton, parenting author, coach and director of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting, said:

    “When young children are still learning how to swim, or when they have just recently learned, if they have a break of more than a few weeks (at any time of year) they are liable to forget some, or even most, of what they have learned. That’s because the complex skills involved in swimming are not yet stored in their long-term memory.

    “The younger the child, the easier it is for their brain to forget what they have learned, so it’s best to continue taking a young child swimming throughout the year.”

    Some parents may avoid winter swimming lessons, thinking wet hair in the cold weather will cause their babies to catch colds. This is a myth. Swimming throughout the year will actually help infants build a stronger immune system so they can fight off nasty bugs. However, drying the toddler’s hair before they go outside is recommended—that way, they don’t feel uncomfortably cold and associate that negative feeling with swimming.

    Noel said: “If the infant is at all anxious about any aspect of swimming, the more frequently they are taken swimming, the sooner the fears will fade.”

    How can parents encourage toddlers to swim in winter?

    Although the pool’s temperature doesn’t change throughout the year, the air around it can sometimes feel much cooler and this will make the baby will feel considerably colder than they would in summer. Wearing swimwear that is designed to keep the child warm can improve their swimming experience and make the initial transition from the changing rooms to the pool much easier.

    Bernadette said: “Wetsuits with fleece lining will cover the majority of the toddler’s body, and keep them warm while getting in the pool. This can help them enjoy water for a longer period of time. A swim hat can also be an added benefit.

    “Before they change into regular clothing, hooded ponchos are perfect for keeping them warm after getting out of the pool and into the changing rooms.

    “Changing mats can be used to stop their feet getting cold and to protect them from the wet and slippery changing room floors. This takes away a lot of the stress that is often associated with getting young children dressed and out of the swimming facilities.”

    The most daunting part of swimming in winter can be getting into the pool due to the colder air temperature. Most baby-friendly pools are usually warm, and it’s often beneficial to use these to warm up in before switching to the larger, deeper and generally colder pool.

    Swimming is a life skill which can be vital in emergencies. Consistently taking part in lessons prepares children for accidents in the future and enables them to become comfortable and confident in the water.

    Survey data

    “What times of the year do you take your baby/toddler swimming?”

    Answers

    Percentage (%)

    Only in summer

    28.8

    Only in winter

    3.8

    Only on sunny/warm days

    13.3

    Only on rainy/cold days

    6.1

    All year round

    37.9

    Most of the year but I avoid winter time

    10.2

    Read more
  2. How to get young children past a fear of swimming
    How to get young children past a fear of swimming

    Even though swimming can be a joyous experience, it’s very common for infants to develop aquaphobia (fear of water) early on in life. A survey conducted by children and baby swimwear specialists Splash About revealed that only 16% of adults said their toddlers felt very confident in water.

    From the age of eight months old, children can suddenly develop a hatred for swimming and a fear of being in the water, even if they had previously enjoyed the activity. This is widely known as the ‘water wobbles’ and is likely to occur when the infant has already had some lessons. Although this usually fades over time, aquaphobia can often prevent people from learning how to swim if it isn’t addressed. However, following some recommended steps can help lessen your child’s fear of water.

    Bring in the experts

    There are a variety of different approaches to carefully handle an infant’s aquaphobia. To find out how parents can best help their child overcome this fear, we decided to seek advice from the experts:

    Bernadette Spofforth—Managing Director of Splash About

    Noël Janis-Norton—Parenting author, coach and director of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting

    Sally Baker—Author, speaker and therapist at Working on the Body

    What is triggering the phobia?

    Possible causes of aquaphobia among children:

    • Fear of separation from their parents
    • A parent unintentionally passing on their own aquaphobia
    • Feeling overwhelmed by the noise, smell of chlorine and general activity in a swimming pool
    • A dislike of getting wet, or a fear of water going in their eyes or nose
    • Remembering a negative experience they have had in water previously
    • Having witnessed something upsetting while in water, or seen a distressing water-related scene on television

    Bernadette: “If it isn’t already known, parents might find it useful to discover the cause of their child’s fear so they can better understand it.

    “Knowing the trigger isn’t enough to diminish the phobia but it can help parents know what direction to go in to prevent the fear from being a lifelong issue.”

    Noël: “An important thing to recognise is that children who become phobic of water or swimming are likely to have a relatively sensitive, intense, inflexible temperament to begin with.

    “Most children don’t want to be scared but it’s out of their conscious control. Once it has become a phobia it’s irrational and it tends to persist, despite encouragement and well-meant lectures.

    “I’ve known children who used to scream in terror at the sight of water who are now confident swimmers. A phobia need not be a life sentence but it does require careful handling.”

    How can parents help?

    Splash About’s study also showed that 10.2% of parents and carers said their infants were scared of all water and 11.2% were afraid of swimming pools. Once the cause of the phobia is established, parents should consider ways to help their children become more confident and relaxed in the water.

    Sally: “You are teaching and letting them experience something wonderful and potentially lifesaving. There’s no rush.

    “It’s important to take any pressure off and make all swimming pool visit as enjoyable as possible without cajoling the child to endure anything they’re not ready to do.”

    Noël: “I recommend parents use systematic desensitisation, which is a method for gradually getting someone used to something that they want to avoid.

    “The parents and the child together map out a lot of little steps between where the child is now, with the phobia, and where you want them to end up, which is with no fear whatsoever. At first, the steps will probably be very small.

    “One benefit of doing this process really gradually is that the child is likely to become increasingly brave, confident and proud of himself. He becomes excited about completing the steps, possibly even keen to skip over a few of the steps and tackle something a bit harder.

    “If parents try to rush it by making the steps too large, then the child will probably rebel and it will end up taking a lot longer to overcome the fear.”

    Support and understand

    Before gradually introducing the child to swimming pools, it can be beneficial to get them used to water in general with baths or paddling pools, so that they no longer associate water with fear.

    Bernadette: “Acknowledge and accept their fear and don’t push them into doing something they aren’t ready for. It’s important that they trust you in the water so don’t trick them. Let them strike an interest in swimming on their own and move at their own pace.

    “Refrain from showing any judgement or overreacting as this can cause stress and fuel the phobia. Instead, validate how they are feeling and remain calm.”

    Consider the surroundings

    Some children might find the idea of swimming scarier than the actual experience and it’s recommended that, as parent, you address your child’s fear before entering the water.

    The child should feel relaxed and positive when swimming and not anxious or frightened, otherwise the fear will continue to grow. To get them used to the environment before swimming, sit near the pool with them and observe the surroundings.

    Once your child is comfortable, encourage them to play with some water toys while sitting on the side-lines and, if they are ready to, paddle in the water. Splash About found in its research that 27% of toddlers were initially cautious about the water but fine once they got into the pool.

    Sally: “All of a swimming pools noises, crowdedness and even water and ambient temperature will impact on the level of nervousness a child will experience.

    “A swimming pool’s environment can seem very strange and alien to a young child and all of their reactions are completely normal and understandable as they acclimatise to this new experience.”

    Choose a suitable class

    If the infant takes part in group classes, consider whether the fear is linked to social anxiety and if one-to-one lessons with a teacher could reduce some pressure.

    It’s also important to check that the teacher’s methods are right for your child, to ensure they will have a positive experience. While your child is still getting used to the idea of swimming, keep the lessons between 20 and 30 minutes.

    Bernadette: “When they are ready to begin swimming, a smaller pool with fewer people could be more suitable for children who are likely to be intimidated by a busy space.”

    Motivational tactics

    If you’re afraid or uncomfortable in a pool, try not to show this when near your child because they might mimic your actions. By appearing calm and happy in the water, you encourage your child to relax.

    It could also be motivating to set realistic goals for your child each lesson, and to acknowledge their bravery by rewarding them with a treat if they achieve their aims.

    Noël: “Most children are motivated to overcome their fears by the promise of rewards but some aren’t. If your child is, then by all means give them an incentive.

    “But the reward must be achievable without too much effort or courage. Make sure you’re not hoping for too much too soon.”

    Floats and swimwear

    Using float jackets, float suits or Fings (floats that fit around the child’s chest or under their arms) to begin with can help the child feel safe and at ease. However, don’t use them too long in case your child becomes dependent on the devices to feel secure in the water.

    Bernadette: “Choosing colourful and bright swimwear that the child will be excited to wear can encourage them to enjoy swimming. Comfortable swimsuits can also make them feel calm and at ease.”

    Sally: “Allowing them to choose the colour of their costume or the colour of their goggles or floats increases the control a child can feel in this new situation. It empowers them and reinforces their sense of influence and control, which can help them feel less overwhelmed.

    “Comfortable swimwear and a swimming costumes with integral floats or inflatable arm bands all help a child feel more confident in the water.”

    Have you experienced a baby/toddler in your care feeling scared of being in water?

    Yes, they were very scared of all water

    10.2%

    Yes, mainly scared of swimming pools

    11.2%

    Initially cautious but fine once in water

    27.9%

    No, they were not afraid of water

    34%

    No, they were very confident in water

    16.7%

    Read more
  3. Drowning Prevention Week 15-25th June 2018
    Drowning Prevention Week 15-25th June 2018

     Next week, we see the beginning of the annual Drowning Prevention Week campaign, and to support the Royal Life Saving Society’s aim of reducing the number of drowning and near drowning instances in the UK, we’re cutting all our buoyancy product prices by 15%! Your child can safely learn all the valuable life saving skills needed when splashing about in and near the water at a lower the cost, just use code DPW18 at checkout to redeem. (see below for full T&Cs).

    Does my child need to learn to swim?

    Simple answer, YES! Over 700 people drown in the UK and Ireland every year and many more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experience.

    “More people die from drowning in the UK and Ireland than from domestic fires or cycling accidents”- source rlss.org 

    You can easily protect your child from suffering from the same fate by simply teaching them to swim, either by regularly going to swimming classes or by teaching them to swim yourself. Learning to swim is the best preventative against drowning and the sooner everyone learns to swim the safer we will be.

     

    How to stay safe around the water?  

    1. Stop and think; Look for the dangers and always read the signs

      Is there a life guard on duty? Is the environment safe to swim in? Is the environment easily accessible if you need to get help? If the answer is no to any of these questions, just stop and think if this is the best and safest place for you and your family to swim in.

    2. Stay together

      There is truth to the saying ‘safety in numbers’, the more of you there are, the more eyes can be watching for dangers and the safer your family will be. It only takes a few seconds for someone, adult or child, to go from happily splashing about to finding themselves struggling. Stay together and stay aware.

    3. Stay calm and get help

      If you ever find yourself or your family in trouble when in the water, the most important thing to do is stay calm. Simply float, don’t waste valuable energy thrashing about and struggling against the water, we all have a level of natural buoyancy in our bodies that can keep us above water. Simply float, and reassess how to safely get yourself out of the water.

    4. Call for help

      Call 999 or 112 in emergencies and always shout for help so others are aware that there is someone in need of help.

    How can I help prevent my child from drowning?

    Drowning is preventable and the best way to prevent your child from drowning is to make sure they can swim strongly and confidently.

    Here are some very simple ways in how you can help your child become water safe;

    1. Take them to swim classes as early as possible.

      There are hundreds of swim schools in the UK that offer fantastic swim classes for babies and children. Use our Find a swim school feature to find your local school- https://www.splashabout.com/swim-schools

    2. Swim as a family

      Don’t stop swimming after lessons, taking your child swimming can not only build their water confidence and strengthen their swimming skills but it can also build yours too. We have an entire range of swimwear to help take baby, toddler and children to the pool much easier; from our swim school approved Happy Nappy swim nappy range to our pool and changing products that ease changing room tantrums and can get your baby warm, clean and dry in no time, including our Splash Mat Changing Mats and Apres Splash towelling.

    3. Use buoyancy aids to build and strengthen confidence.

      Young children often feel scared when in the water, our range of adjustable buoyancy Floatsuits are designed to support your child when in the water by keeping them in the correct position for swimming. Floats can gradually be removed until your child can swim confidently unaided. All our buoyancy products are currently 15% OFF when using the code DPW18 at checkout.

    4. Be aware and understand the water code;

      Stop and think, stay together, float and always call for help (999/112)

    The RLSS do an amazing job at keeping everyone safe in and around the water, for more information on how you can keep your family safe or to support the RLSS go to https://rlss.org.uk

    *Terms and conditions; 15% off buoyancy products DPW18 code: only valid on buoyancy products. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. UK delivery only. Offer ends at midnight 25/06/18

    Shop 15% off buoyancy now>

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  4. Drowning- How to recognize if a child or adult is in trouble
    Drowning- How to recognize if a child or adult is in trouble
    I always thought it would be fairly obvious to recognize the signs of someone drowning. After all, I know how to swim,
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  5. Drowning Prevention Week- Help My Child Can't Swim
    Drowning Prevention Week- Help My Child Can't Swim
    We receive numerous letters each month at Splash Towers from mums and dads who’s children can’t swim.
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  6. Tips for swimming whilst pregnant
    Tips for swimming whilst pregnant
    Ok so you feel fat and whale like and nothing is going to induce you to wear a swimsuit? Well think again. Swimming for two is a wonderful way to keep active in pregnancy.
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  7. Beware of Cruise Ship Holidays!
    Beware of Cruise Ship Holidays!
    Cruise ship holidays are experiencing something of a revival at the moment. Gone are the 70’s memories of The Love Boat to be replaced with floating luxury resorts catering for every need.
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