How to make your kid successfully transition to open waters swimming?
10 swimming tips before you take your kid to swim in open water.
Before we start talking about how to make your kid adjust and fall in love with swimming in open water, let’s clarify the goal in teaching your kid to swim in open water.
The First and most important thing we want our kids to have, is fun! This is #1. Because if they’ll enjoy swimming in open water, they’ll want to come back and do it again and again and fall in love with swimming in open waters.
Swimming in open water can be scary for kids as it can be for adults as well! The sea has its dangers, whether it be different fish that can be scary, jelly fish, the salt which can make the swim more challenging, the waves, the temperature and more…
It’s important, before teaching your kid how to swim in the open water, to make him/her love the beach!
Going to the beach should be a fun and enjoyable experience for him/her from a young age. And going to the beach doesn’t have to necessarily mean getting in the water to swim. Play in the sand, make castles, get dirty, chase the waves, run away from them, surf a boogie board – whatever.
Now your kid is 7, 10 or 15 and you want to teach him/her enjoy swimming in the water? Here are 1- tips to how you can easily achieve this:
- Practice and make sure your kid is able to swim 1000 m freestyle in the pool without stopping: When swimming in the pool you can stop, hold on to the ledge if tired, and rest if needed. When swimming in the sea you don’t have this option! There’s no place where you can stop and rest if tired.. Therefore before taking your kid to swim in open waters, make sure he’s comfortable enough swimming 1000m in a pool without stopping and feel comfortable doing so. Remember that swimming in open water is more challenging therefore your kid should be in good shape to make the transition from the pool to open water. Think of the pool as “the lab” where you can practice and check before going out to try it in the real world.
- It is always better to let a qualified open water coach do it– As a parent and only if you can, try to come to the first practice in the sea, don’t say anything just be there for your kid and if you have time, talk to the coach so all your fears will go away, you don’t want to take your fears without knowing it and pass it to your kid.
- Choose the most ideal conditions for your kid’s first swims– The sea is versatile and can be calm or challenging. Try to make the first times you take your kid swimming in the water, when the sea is calm and easy without waves which can be challenging for the non-experienced (and also experienced) swimmer. Swallowing water from a big wave can be a very frightening and negative experience for your kid, a kind of experience that can make him not want to come back.
- Take a buoy and drinking water with you– The water is very salty, especially for kids. Bring drinking water with you and let them drink every 8 min or so (or when needed). This will make the experience more friendly and can help them get used to the sea water more quickly. A few sips of water every 100 meters can make the experience from difficult and not fun, to challenging but good!.
- Go through the swim with your kid before going in the water– Tell your kid what exactly you are going to do, where you’re going to swim, how long it’ll be and encourage him by telling him that he’s a good swimmer and will do it easily! This will help with any anxiety your kid may have before getting in the open water.
- Don’t rush him into the deep water– Swim, dive and float first in shallow water. Only after your kid feels comfortable and adjusted to the sea water, you can goa bit deeper in, but swim still close to shore, approx. 100 m from the and let your kid know that you’re close to shore, also to reduce anxiety.
- Eat before the swim– When a kid is frightened all his “fuel”, the energy drains away from his body very quickly, so make sure he eats well before the swim, so he’ll have a full tank of fuel in him and won’t drain out.
- Start with short distances – Somewhere between 500 m-900 m will be easy for your little swimmer after practicing swimming 1000 m in the pool, so start with these shorter distances to give him confidence!
- After the swim, tell your kid how amazing he was – Make sure your kid knows he did an awesome job! Even if he was scared and had difficulty in his swim, make him feel like a brave star. Tell your family, friends and almost everybody how great he did and by that help him gain confidence and turn this experience into a great one, even if it wasn’t the greatest.
- Don’t take chances on your first time “There is no second chance for first impression”. If your kid doesn’t enjoy his first experience swimming in open waters it’s going to be hard to get him to do it again. So do your best to make his first experience good and easy, don’t take any unnecessary chances like going in to swim when the sea is high or too cold or try to swim a longer distance than suggested… Make it awesome and your kid will come back again and again and again!
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