Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the South Louisiana Swim Team.
Water Safety, and Fun, With the SLST Seahorses
When my daughter began suffering from severe anxiety, I knew there would be changes. One of my biggest surprises was her near overnight fear of gymnastics. She’d been practicing for several years when suddenly the wide open space became too much for her. Participating in physical activity outside of school is important to our family, so we began to look for alternatives.
Joining a swim team was logical. While she didn’t know any formal strokes, she was very comfortable in the water and held a genuine enthusiasm for the idea. Swimming had always been soothing to me (as a child I had the very cool nickname “Fish”) and I hoped it would provide the same for her.
So I did what most modern Mammas do: crowdsourced my social networking sites for recommendations. A few of my friends mentioned SLST. There were plenty of reasons to love it on paper: they have a flexible schedule with multiple locations, reasonable prices and they were immediately responsive when I called and emailed with questions (I had a lot of them).
Additionally, the fact that they have both recreational and competitive teams appealed to me. I was concerned that moving from one highly competitive sport to another might stress my daughter too much, particularly early in her treatment, and I was doubtful she’d have a high level of commitment. So being able to start slow was a major benefit. It turns out SLST was the perfect fit.
I am not exaggerating when I say that being on a swim team changed her. Over the past year and a half, Charley has gone from trepidatiously dipping her feet into the “big kid pool” to competing in meets and practicing three times a week. Swimming helps her feel safe, confident and strong. Now her brother wants in on the action, too!
Now that both of my kids are “seasoned” swimmers, I admit we are more laid back when at the pool or beach. Yet even the most adept swimmers should practice water safety, and summer is right around the corner. So I had lunch with Kier Braendel, owner of SLST (and the one I nag with all my questions), to talk about how May is National Water Safety Month, and to get some basic tips on how to keep my family safe while still enjoying some water fun this summer.
General Water Safety
Starting with formal lessons is important. In addition to teaching children basic technique, lessons allow a child to become comfortable and remain calm if they fall into the water. It’s worth noting that most professional swim teachers do not recommend puddle jumpers, as they provide a false sense of security and teach children the incorrect way to kick (horizontally as opposed to vertically), so start early.
Additionally, consider constant exposure to the water. A child swimming only once a week for a lesson is unlikely to truly get comfortable. If possible, take them to a local pool or water park to give them consistent, positive time in the water. This is also a good time to develop a year-round swim practice to avoid spending the first half of each summer reorienting your child to the water.
Whether you are going to a family or friend’s pool, have a pool of your own, or are visiting some of the public pools in the area, here are a few safety tips that can help keep your family safe.
- Never leave children unattended, even if you think they are safe. A small child splashing in a wading pool can easily run over to the “big pool” unnoticed. The NDPA suggests designating a “Water Watcher” to ensure constant supervision. Personally, I’ve found that in larger groups we always think someone else is watching the kids (usually the Momma, amiright?) which can be dangerous. Never assume – even if there is a lifeguard on duty.
- Remind children to stay away from drains at the bottom of the pool – and always make sure they work properly. This is particularly true in older pools or apartment pools where you cannot guarantee they are well maintained.
- Consider a fence around a personal pool area, with a self-latching gate that locks and opens away from the pool.
Swimming as a Sport with SLST
Swimming in the summer is great and, with a few safety steps in mind, can be a lot of fun. But I would encourage any parent to consider this summer as a jump-start to a life-long love of the sport.
It’s is a great form of exercise that builds strength and cardiovascular endurance, and it’s an amazing stress reliever at any age. Joining a swim team provides even more benefit. My daughter is developing friendships with a group of diverse, confident swimmers who are as goal-oriented and brave as she is. They’ve formed a community based on teamwork and enthusiasm.
The SLST coaches foster this community with their focus on a Growth Mindset (which I’ve mentioned before is highly beneficial at all ages), and their calm, consistent method of coaching. They are a family-operated, experienced organization with a goal of teaching concepts in the water that extend to life. I love that my children feel safe and are more comfortable when swimming, but more so I love the way their characters, and senses of self, are developing through swim.
Want to learn more about SLST?
Or call Kier Braendel at 504-256-6554.