Search This Blog

Friday, June 8, 2018

Are We Ready For Swim Lessons?

Woohoo ~ the wait is over! Summer is around the corner, and finally attention is shifting from schools and books to swimming fun and vacation! We are lucky enough to live an endless summer here in Cozumel, but now everyone is ready to catch that eazy-breezy summertime feel!

Summer Vacation!
After 29 years of experience teaching aquatics, I've heard several questions about swim lessons many times over. Here's me trying to sum up a few of those in a seashell. If you have a particular situation you'd like to ask about, please "Get Your Toes Wet" - use the form on the right to send me a message!

1. When Is My Child Ready For Swim Lessons?

They were born ready. Seriously! It is us who puts our fear or discomfort unto them. Remember babies develop in a liquid environment, so the comfort level for them is no problema. Now they are breathing air, so the biggest concern is preventing water from entering the lungs, potentially causing drowning – obviously, this is true at any age. So the question becomes; what is the purpose of swim lessons at various ages?

Swim CozumelMost programs offer learn to swim classes starting at 6 months. The swimmer will be accompanied by a parent until they are between 2-3 yrs old – depending on if they move on to the big kids class via private or group instruction. In baby/toddler classes, the main objective is comfort and safety. Actually, the class is more for the adult to understand basic safety concepts – e.g. the importance of constant surveillance. But more importantly, adults also learn how to hold their child in a way that encourages proper body position in the water for easy transition to swim skills down the line. While some programs boast about an infant “swimming” alone, be assured this is a primitive instinct self-rescue skill – definitely not “swimming” as in prepared for safe, independent play in the water.

Usually, children are physically developed enough for more independent exploration around 2-4 yrs old. Formal strokes and skills begin to develop more rapidly around 5 years old. If a child has started lessons at an early age, the strokes usually come more easily. By then, they already have confidence, floatation, and breathing skills established, allowing them to focus on specific skills and techniques required for learning the different swimming strokes.

2. What Can I Do If S/He Is Terrified? 

When you sign up for swim lessons, ask if it is possible to get a personal introduction on land to their future swim instructor. Not 2 minutes before their class along with everyone else, but on a different day beforehand. If not, at least be sure to get the instructor’s name, and maybe even some characteristics about him or her so that you can start talking them up to your little one. You want to instill that their swim instructor is someone they can trust, someone who will keep them safe, and someone who will help them to do something really fun!

But don’t just say it once, talk about them often enough that their swim instructor becomes part of their familiar routine same as say, their dance teacher or other caretaker. Establishing this trust beforehand should help the transition in those first few moments of the first class. If your little one recognizes this person, you are not in the awkward position of telling them to trust – and have fun! – with a complete stranger!?

Especially if you were able to get a meet and greet with the instructor beforehand, you will have peace of mind knowing that she/he is aware of the situation, and prepared to use the extra TLC necessary to help your swimmer along. When the moment of truth comes, no matter how heartbreaking it is, it is imperative that you make a clean break – leaving the swim instructor to do what they are trained to do – calm down a frightened child in the water. A reputable instructor will have toys, songs, and other tricks in their bag for just that moment. A quality program may even have a person supervising the deck who will also provide back-up support as needed.

As for you, practice what you have been preaching at home, and trust the instructor is prepared and qualified to manage the situation. Once you make it thru that quick exchange, get out of sight, and stay out of sight until the end of class – or you notice a huge improvement in your little one’s comfort level. There is no other moment in life that the saying holds more truth; out of sight, out of mind. Even though it can be very difficult to hear the cries of your little one, have faith that it does get better. Know that the best remedy is to give space and time for acclimation, and while it may suck, truly the best thing you can do is endure those difficult moments, allowing the trust and bond to grow between your swimmer and their swim instructor.  

As with any new skill, comfort leads to safety, and then the real learning can begin. At the end of the day, rest assured knowing it is not the first time a child has been afraid of water, and how you manage the fear will make all the difference. Don’t worry! Sometimes screaming and crying in the beginning is a normal part of the progression!

3.       What Can I Do At Home To Prepare For Swim Lessons?

Make bath-time the official prep-time for swim lessons. Rule #1 is to let the water run over their face and ears freely. Covering ears to prevent water from running over them will guarantee a slow learning curve for the backfloat later on. A child who is used to feeling the water over their ears will have a much easier time relaxing enough to let the water hold them up to float.
Back Float
Likewise, if they are used to feeling water on their face, it will be much easier getting them to put their face in and eyes down towards the bottom of the pool, teaching proper body position for a front float or forward glide. So, at bath-time, show that it is no big deal getting water all over their head, face, and ears…all the while talking about what kinds of fun things they will do in swim class.

Encourage them to blow bubbles, put their eyes under, briefly hold their breath, kick their feet, and move their arms to “swim”. Be sure to get them excited to show their swim instructor their new talents, and reassure them how impressed and proud the instructor will be, knowing that they have been practicing at home! Of course, any trips to the pool for aquatic fun outside of swim class will absolutely help build their confidence, and will inevitably help improve their swim skills. If you’re looking to help the cause, ask the swim instructor which skills they may need a little extra practice on, and feel free to ask for tips or suggestions as to how you can practice those at home with your little one – believe me, this is a swim instructor’s dream!!!

As for those future swimmers who may have cried most of the time, and continue to struggle with getting comfortable being in the water – no matter what, the message you want to send is that they did an amazing job at swim class. Pick out a moment that you can use as something that was so brave and impressive, and focus on that...even if they only put their eyes under for 2 seconds, call it their front float and tell them how great it was…and don’t forget to remind them how much fun they had while doing it!? The idea is you want them to get excited to go back and try it again – maybe even do a front float for 5 seconds next time..?

Front Float
While it may seem a touch manipulative to modify their memory of it all, think of it more like the placebo effect. Replacing fearful moments by connecting positive vibes to the experience of swim class can switch their perspective entirely, and make all the difference in their comfort and confidence level for the next one.

In the end, just remember; what it all comes down to are those lovely summertime memories. Sure, swim lessons are important for summer safety and fun, but never should they be a stress-inducer for you or your little one ~ just ride the wave, and splash it up!
Thanks so much for diving in to these aquatic adventures with me!
Click the link below for quality swim products I've hand-picked
Use 1/2 the sunscreen w SPF swimwear!

Swim Lessons
Swimming Cozumel

Cozumel Swim

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Women's DiveDay ~ Fearless Female Freediver Course

PADI Womens Dive Day Cozumel

Join us for a Females Only Freediver Course!

Breathe deep, freedive in, and experience the underwater world in the most natural way possible.
Freedive CozumelCapture the girl power, and without fear discover your freediving self thru classroom, confined, and open water sessions.
Assuming all flows well, celebrate your PADI Freediver certification on the 3rd day with a boat trip to freedive the reef in Cozumel's marine park. Invite your favorite fearless female ~ let's go freediving!

Dive in HERE for more deTails!

Discount pricing for Hotel B guests and local residents


Women's Dive Day ~ Mermaid Beach Party

PADI Womens Dive Day Cozumel

Join us at Hotel B Cozumel for a Mermaid Beach Party!

Mermaid CozumelDiscover Freediving and Learn to Mermaid for a fun-filled day in the crystal clear waters of Cozumel.
Smile, breathe, relax, and release your inner-mermaid as you soak up the Caribbean sunshine and experience the mermaid vibe!
In the morning session we'll teach basic techniques for safe and comfortable freediving, then after lunch share some tips for monofin swimming as we splash and play with merFins and mermaid tails ~ invite your merMates and let’s get aquatic!

Dive in HERE for more deTails!

Discount pricing available for Hotel B guests, and local residents