Summer vacations are around the corner. There are new classes to join and hobbies to pick up. Swimming is one such popular activity and rightly so, it is the perfect season for it. For this series on swimming we speak with Nisha Millet who advises us on how to get our children started with this engaging activity and life-long skill.
What are the benefits of swimming?
Swimming is the most fun-filled activity to cool off in the summer and get a substantial amount of physical workout. It increases stamina, improves balance and posture. Making it the perfect skill to learn and prevent childhood obesity. Kids with asthma benefit even more so, as swimming strengthens their lungs.
We must create room for a child to develop his/her love of the water.
What is the right age to start swimming?
We must create room for a child to develop his/her love of the water. By the time they are 6 months old, they could be introduced to the pool (provided the water is not cold). They can start with splashing and playing with toys while in the safe arms of their parents. As they get more independent they can play around in very shallow, knee deep pools. They can also use floats and arms bands, but they should always be under parental supervision. At age 3-4 years they could be slowly taught how to blow bubbles through the mouth and submerge the face very briefly into the water. I would say the perfect age for formal classes would be age 5 years and above.
What to keep in mind before sending the kids for swimming?
- Parents need to make sure their child does not have a health condition like Epilepsy, where swimming is not recommended. It is extremely important to talk to the coach about any prior injuries the child might have.
- In terms of nutrition, make sure the child does not swim on an empty or very full stomach, ideally something light like a banana, cereal or biscuits about an hour before class is recommended.
- After the class finishes, make sure the child drinks a lot of water or electrolyte drink since they will sweat a lot in the water.
- If the weather is cold or rainy, get the child to dry his/her hair properly and wear a sweater or hooded jacket.
- If it is very sunny, apply a good waterproof sunscreen on all exposed areas an hour before the swim.
- A nylon/lycra swimsuit, swim cap and goggles are the other necessities.
How does swimming benefit kids with special needs?
I used to teach kids with cerebral palsy. They showed good improvement and were able to move their legs better in the water. However they need to workout in a heated indoor pool so I now refer them to Vesoma Rehabilitation and Fitness centre in Malleshwaram. In fact, I’m currently doing hydrotherapy only for my Dad, who had a serious illness. He is now finally beginning to walk with a walker. He has shown great improvement in the pool and can walk without help in water since there is a lot less weight and stress on the legs. The body weighs about 90% less than on land.
Which places in Bangalore can we take our kids for swimming other than membership clubs?
If you are not a member of a club then you can swim in the following places:
Public 50 Meter Swimming Pools:
Smaller Swimming Pools:
Jayamahal Pool (near Cantonement Station)
Hockey Club in Shanthinagar
Temperature controlled Swimming Pools
With this we conclude Part 1 of the Swimming Series. In the next article we will be covering comprehensive details on coaching and also some snippets of personal experiences.