Author: Ashley Graves
There are usually three reasons people seek out swim lessons. To conquer their fears, to build upon their current aquatic skills, or to get swim lessons for their children. All three of these require very different levels of swim instruction. Know that whoever you are, wherever you are in your swim journey, there is a place for you in aquatics!
Conquering Your Fears
It’s never too late to learn to swim. This is one of the few lifesaving skills that if you learn can not only save your life but someone else's. It’s a human right to know how to swim. By learning this skill, you are helping family and friends around you. It might inspire others to face their fears as well. If you have trauma from a personal experience around water or generational trauma where your parents might not have known themselves to swim or couldn't afford to send you to swim lessons, you can still learn even if it seems impossible. Be patient with yourself, know you are not alone, you can do this, and aquatic professionals want to help you accomplish your personal goals. There is no judgment in swimming, USA Swim Teams will be so happy you are there! Starting is the hardest part, you will be so glad you took those first steps, we believe in you!
Building Upon Limited Aquatics Skills
Knowing how to save yourself in an aquatic environment is important but it’s very different from swimming proficiently. I encourage everyone to learn to swim a moderate distance, gain endurance, and skill development enough to sustain themselves. Open water such as a beach or lake creates different challenges than a pool environment. These circumstances present themselves often in military training and deployed environments. Pools often have shallow or predictable depths, walls to grab on to, and stairs to walk in and out of. When you get in an open body of water, you have to be able to sustain yourself not knowing the depth or relying on anything outside of your own skills. It’s my recommendation that all service members seek out this training. You never know when you will be in a situation where you need this life-saving skill. This training could not only save your life but a fellow service member's life. It’s something you would rather have than not. I encourage you to take the leap and make this skill development a priority. Strong swimming is an asset you deserve to have!
Finding Quality Swim Lessons For Your Children
Almost every USA Swim Team has a lessons program attached to it. Even if they don't, if you contact them about lessons they usually offer private instruction or can refer you
to the best program in the area. USA Swim teams take great pride in their lesson programs, it is a way for them to connect with their community and give back. They truly offer quality swim lessons with high-level instruction. Often the kids that fall in love with the sport do so in swim lessons and transition to the swim team.
I cannot stress this enough, every child is different. What one child struggles with another will thrive in. I’m not a huge fan of larger group classes for that reason. More than two kids in a group under the age of five will take longer to learn in most circumstances, so if you are trying to “fast track”, sign up for private lessons. I’ve found that parents will spend so much money on introductory group classes several summers in a row before they pay for private lessons. I encourage you to just start with private lessons. You will save more money in the long run and your child will have an experience revolving around their skill development needs.
The most common call I get from parents looking to put their children into swimming lessons is “My child is x years old, how long will it take for them to learn swimming”. It’s not uncommon for it to take a child with no prior trauma a full summer or longer to gain life saving skills, especially if it’s their first time in swim lessons or has previously used flotation devices. Swimming is often one of the first places that children are forced to keep coming back to face a fear on a regular basis. Swimming takes a lot of practice but it’s one of the best skills you can give your child. I ask that you find patience with your children through this process, the end result is worth it!
The most successful children in swim lessons have patient parents that encourage their children to keep coming back to the pool to face their fears, they understand it’s a process. It’s important to be supportive, let your child go through this experience, and gain confidence in themselves in the water.
Please trust the aquatics professionals, this is what they have been trained to do. I do know it’s hard to see your child cry, please know instructors are sensitive to that and it’s a common response to fear and trying new skills. It’s important for your children to build trust with them in the water and allow the instructor to work through the tears with them. In most circumstances, once the fear is pinpointed by the child the instructor has the chance to walk and talk through it with them. The tears tend to be short-lived. Usually, those tears are replaced with high fives and smiles. This transition can be a difficult one for parents to watch their child struggle through a skill emotionally, but it is part of the process for most children. Parents show bravery every day in swimming lessons as they are strong and supportive in their children’s swimming development, I know you can be too, we believe in you!
Everything about swimming is different from other skill development. Children can grab anything in the air but must reach through the water to grab a toy. When you lay on your back in bed you are supported fully by a mattress, buoyancy is a completely new feeling. Breathing in everyday life is natural, in the water you not only have to think about breathing but also consistently blow out through your nose. Jumping is great when you can control your landing, jumping through water, learning to blast back up to get air while remembering to blow bubbles and make it back to the wall requires several skill combinations. It’s hard for children to face their fears, tackle multiple skills at once, and gain confidence in the water in a fast period of time.
Where Can I Find Quality Lessons?
A common question I get from service members is “Where do you recommend; I seek out lessons?” My answer is always, a USA Swim Team near you. USA Swimming Coaches are the highest qualified aquatics professionals in the country. There is a team close to every military base and they teach children all the way up to adults. Usually, you can find a place for your whole family to take lessons within their offered programs. Trust in their knowledge of swimming, they are training the next generation of collegiate and Olympic swimmers. You are in good hands!
Wishing you a year of great swimming ahead in 2022!
About the Author
Ashley began her coaching journey at the age of nineteen years old. She became the youngest female head coach in the country of a club team and combined high school program in 2014. Ashley has continued to work in the swim community in a variety of roles but is most well known for her work at Streamline Teams where she is the Founder & CEO.
Streamline Teams was created to give coaches a connection platform to share their stories, challenges, and advice within the swimming community. Through doing so, Streamline Teams enables coach members to network with peers, grow professionally through resources and coach connection platforms.