Five Tips From a Swimming Teacher
Both of my parents are swimming teachers (as were their parents before them) so it was important that my brother and I were confident and competent swimmers from a young age, as we spent so much time around water growing up. Swimming was always a central part of family life in our house - whether it was lessons, playing in the pool or watching our parents swim and compete.
So here are some tips from a child of swimming teachers (and swimming teacher myself - and parent of two little swimmers!)
1. Enjoy the water yourself. My parents are more at home around a swimming pool than anywhere else in the world, and it shows. They love being in the water, and always conveyed that to us - they were never afraid to jump in and get their hair wet, and it was obvious that the time we spent in the water was as enjoyable for them as it was for us.
2. Don't be afraid to take (calculated) risks. We were always encouraged to be independent in the water - we were jumping and diving under careful supervision from a very young age. Our parents didn't cling onto us, so we learned not to cling on to them, and that served us well, because we were used to being able to move freely in the water.
3. Teach your children to respect the water. We were always, always taught to be safe around the water. My grandfathers on both sides were open water swimmers, and both had some terrifying stories about the things that can go wrong for even the best sportsmen and women. We were always taught to make sure that water we were jumping or diving into was safe, we were never allowed to cling on to another child in the water and we were never allowed to run by the pool. Safety came first, always - swimming teachers, probably more than anyone else, know the risks that come from being around the water.
4. Swim together and make it fun. We would go for rides on our dad's back, play chasing games in the water and collect sinkers - all activities that will quickly build both strength and water confidence.
5. Don't push them too far. When you've taught hundreds of children, you know that they all get there in the end - some children make quick progress, others take longer. Some pick up one stroke straight away but struggle with another, some are adept at every stroke they try. Unless an event of some kind has generated a fear of the water, they will get there - they won't be in armbands forever. Teaching hundreds of other children gave my parents the perspective to let us get there in our own time, and we were better for it.
Teach your child as if you were a swimming teacher yourself and encourage a love of the water!