We like to say that we teach kids to be water smart – but what if swimming lessons actually made your child smarter altogether? This was the question posed by researchers at Griffith University in Australia – a country famous for it’s water sports. The study, conducted from 2009 through 2012, collected almost 7,000 questionnaires from parents of children under five years old in swim schools around world (including Academy Swim Club!) The researchers also independently assessed over 200 children in swim schools in Australia. Although the last year of accumulated data awaits analysis, their initial findings have been published.
Just as we suspected, swimmers are smarter.
It seems babies and toddlers that participate in swim lessons are hitting milestones ahead of schedule – and before their non-swimming peers, regardless of social or economic background. The swimmers are not just excelling physically (i.e. running, jumping, climbing trees), which you would expect from lessons that teach a physical activity, but also in the areas of cognitive and language development. Basically, early swimmers are primed to do better in school.
Not all swim schools are created equal. As the researchers noted, there is considerable variation in swim programs that may influence the quality of learning, so choose wisely when deciding where your child will receive swim lessons.
To read the study go to www.griffith.edu.au and search for Early Years Swimming.
Move over, Stephen King. Step aside, Dean Koontz. The swimmers at our annual Halloween Love’Em and Leave’Em crafted a spine tingling tale sure to make you scream.
The Haunted Swim Club
Ryan: There once was a group of kids that went to a haunted swim school.
Hunter: There was an ear sitting on the floor and it turned into a giant cheese.
McKenzie: They looked back and saw a giant spider.
Matthew: They turned around and they saw an electric eel.
Claire: Then they went and they saw a big seahorse and the seahorse’s friend was an otter.
Christian: A seal ran away but he had no flippers and he tripped and he bumped into another monkey sitting on the stairs.
Jacob: There was a dinosaur that said, “Roar!” and it was looking for a monkey.
Juliana: (She was too scared.)
Giselle: Somebody went to the bathroom and there was a dead foot in the toilet.
Ethan: They went to the pool and there was blood in the pool and it turned into a skull.
Mia: They ran out and the found a dead zombie head.
Ben: They ran back into the lobby room and there awaited a giant pumpkin.
Alex: So they turned around and saw a giant spider.
Eduardo: They were going to turn around and run the other way, then all the lights turned off. Nobody escaped the haunted Swim Club again.
It’s time to wrap up our super swim instructor. He’s cool, he’s confident, he’s in control – but he still needs that certain something. The last two members of the Avengers bring it.
Hawkeye: What he brings to the team – Focus. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but we’re going to stick with the obvious here. When it comes to kids and water, you have to watch them like, well, a hawk.
Black Widow: What she brings to the team – Psychology. Okay, super spy and assassin doesn’t exactly scream instructor of the year to me either. But one thing I realized after watching the movie was that Natasha Romanov’s super power wasn’t in her fighting. It was in her ability to get people to open up and talk to her. Some instructors are goofy, some are quiet, some are more energetic than a bolt of lightning – but they all have their sneaky little ways of gaining a child’s trust and cooperation.
Combine all of those qualities and you’ll have yourself one super swim instructor. So, to all of our ASC instructors, consider this a big, sloppy, wet one right on your cheek. We are so grateful you are here, fighting the good fight against childhood drowning. You really are our heroes.
This week we mined the past for heroic qualities to strengthen our Super Swim Instructor – and came up with gold (along with red, white and blue).
Captain America: What he brings to the team – Teamwork. The Cap is a good all-purpose super hero, but he’s also smart enough to know that he doesn’t know everything. He’ll get input from his team and assign the best person for each job. Likewise, a swim instructor may need assistance from others. If you’re having a hard time teaching a skill, someone else might have an idea that would help if you only ask. With all the experience we have in this facility, we’ve probably seen everything at least once.
Only a few more ingredients to add to our recipe and our amazing swim instructor will be complete. Stop by next week to see if animal instincts bring anything heroic to the mix.
Our Super Swim Instructor is coming together nicely – he’s got the right tools for the job and the confidence to inspire. What other quality could the Avengers loan our hero? It comes from a surprising source . . .
The Hulk: What he brings to the team – Control. Okay, the big guy may lack a little in the self-control department, but Bruce Banner – he’s got it in spades. No matter how much you love kids or how satisfying you find teaching them to swim, every now and then one is going to frustrate you. The ability to control your frustration and stress level is a necessary component of any teacher, because if anyone could change you in to a giant green rage monster, a two year old riding a sugar high and cranky before her nap would do it.
We’re halfway through the members of the Avengers and we’ve still got three hero qualities to go. Next week Captain America lays it out for us.
In our quest to build a Super Swim Instructor, we’re looking at each member of the Avengers and the qualities he or she would contribute to our life-saving hero. This week -
Thor: What he brings to the team – Confidence. It takes a lot of confidence in yourself and your abilities to take on the Hulk and expect to come out on top (well, duh – Norse deity, here). A good instructor not only has faith in himself, but instills that confidence in his swimmer. A skittish toddler takes that first no-hands leap off the side because he believes his instructor when he says, “You can do it. I’m here. I’ve got you.”
Next week – The brains, the brawn, the Hulk!
Over the summer most of our staff (along with the rest of the planet) saw this little movie called The Avengers. Thumbs up from everyone here at ASC , by the way. What’s not to love? A bunch of attractive super heroes, each with a unique skill set, working together to save the world. In examining those skills, it occurred to me that, put’em together, they’d make an awesome swim instructor. Over the next few weeks we’re going to showcase the unique quality each member possesses that would make him (or her!) a valuable addition to Academy Swim Club.
Iron Man: What he brings to the team – Equipment. Tony Stark has all the cool toys. Each has a purpose, but most can be adapted to other uses. We’ve got our own toy box full of barbells and dumbbells and belts. Our instructors have found more uses for them than WD-40. Even our playtime toys serve a purpose. A simple game of catch with a ball or rocket is actually a trust building exercise that strengthens the bond between instructor and swimmer – and that’s worth more than Stark Industries when you’ve got a weepy 3 year old at his first swim lesson.
Next week – Thor brings down the hammer.
The weather was hot, the water was wet,
the pool was as full as it could get.
We gathered together for fun in the sun,
all to say “Thanks!” to our fab patrons.
Ryan and his band The Early Risers came,
and they rocked, yeah, they rocked you like a hurricane.
Captain Jack sauntered in with a pirate swagger,
Made balloon swords and called for a lager.
Our instructors risked all for the sake of charity
As water balloon targets to help JACK D!***
The hot dogs were grillin’
The lemonade was flowin’
The bounce house was hoppin’
And the games were rollin’
So thanks to our staff who volunteered so generously,
And thanks to all of you, our wonderful ASC families!
*** We are collecting donations all week to benefit Jack D., a 4 year old former swimmer at Academy Swim Club who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. For more info visit www.JacksAngels.org.
Meet the humble swim diaper. It’s got a dirty job to do, and it does it well. All swimmers under 36 months must wear TWO health department approved swim diapers at Academy Swim Club. If you’ve got a swimmer who is under three, or is perhaps older but not yet, shall we say, reliable, we’d like to get you guys together. Below is a quick rundown of what a swim diaper is, why you need it, and where you can get it.
What is a Health Department Approved Swim Diaper? A fancy name for underpants with two layers of tightly woven fabric and heavy-duty elastic around the waist and legs. This stylish, reusable garment has one purpose – to keep poop inside the diaper (making it eco-friendly in more ways than one.) It should fit snugly, but not so much so that it cuts off circulation. They are sized by weight and age. You may want to buy a size up for the outer swim diaper. Huggies Lil’ Swimmers or other disposable diapers won’t work. The only thing they keep contained are baby bottoms, not what comes out of them. Some parents do layer a Lil’ Swimmer under the approved swim diapers to keep clean up simple in the case of accidents. Just remember that a disposable Lil’ Swimmer does not replace one of the required reusable swim diapers.
Why are two swim diapers required? Firstly, because the Health Department told us so, and we never say “no” to the Health Department. They don’t have to buy us dinner first or anything. Secondly, because a fecal incident (those are the actual words on the form we have to fill out after one occurs) creates an unbelievable mess. Our pool is a pretty high tech affair, with pumps, jets, filters and all manner of diagnostic whatsits designed to circulate the water and ensure it is contaminant free. You could probably launch a space shuttle from our equipment room. However, all that circulation works against us once a little digestive waste hits the water and gets spread from end to end. Then we have to shut down the pool for the remainder of the current lesson and all of the next one while we vacuum and scoop – and the reality of that is even more disgusting than it sounds. That’s also a lot of parents who wasted their time driving to our facility for their child to only receive half a lesson or none at all. Worst case scenario, we’re shut down for the rest of the day. Double diapering doesn’t seem like much bother compared to all of that, right?
Where can I buy swim diapers? Academy Swim Club sells them at the front desk, but you can also find them during the warm months at Target, Walmart, Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, etc. We don’t care where you buy them, as long as they meet the health department’s standards. Some baby swimsuits come with built-in swim diapers that can function as one of the diapers, which is handy.
If you have any questions about swim diapers, give us a call, shoot us an email, or just stop by the front desk. We are more than happy to help!
This is it. We’re in the home stretch. Your instructors have only one last thing they want to tell you . . .
Stay the Course. Translated, that means DON’T PULL YOUR CHILD OUT EARLY! If you do, even once, she will cry all the harder during the next lessons because, hey, it worked before, right? This is the same intermittent reward system that hooks gamblers. So read a book, call a friend, go to the front desk and watch the lesson on the TV – just make sure her bikini stays in the water for the full 25 minutes. Ultimately, this approach shortens the time it takes for your child to adjust to lessons.
Why do kids stop crying? Wish I knew. Sometimes an instructor finds the trick that soothes them. I know one instructor who can get almost any kid to stop crying by repeatedly bouncing a ball off the wall. It’s hypnotizing. Others feel it is simply a matter of time. One day, after a pre-determined but unknown amount of time, a switch flips and the child comes to the lesson ready to play and learn. And it should be reassuring that a child’s initial reaction to swim lessons has absolutely nothing to do with her future liking or aptitude for the water.
Just wait, a few lessons down the road and you’ll be the one patting some new parent on the shoulder and saying, “Hang in there; it get’s better.”