Jun 19, 2012

From Backyard Pools to Olympic Trials #SwimToday

Were you or your kids one of the MANY who were inspired by Michael Phelps or another Olympic swimmer during the 2008 games?

Did you know fans rank swimming as their favorite Summer Olympics sport?  If you want to get in on the action from the start, you can tune in and watch the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Swimming live on NBC June 25 - July 2.  

Watching Olympic swimming can be exciting for all ages. I think that's partly because while we obviously can't all be Olympians, we can all get out there and swim.

There are many great benefits to swimming:
Drowning is the 2nd-leading cause of accidental death for kids 1-14
Swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 80%

Swimming is a whole-body exercise
A low-impact sport, it is a life-long fitness option

As an individual sport, swimming teaches work ethic and goal-setting
As a team sport (swimming is both!) swimming builds social skills and teamwork

Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with some fabulous ladies to learn more about swimming and the great resource, SwimToday.org that USA Swimming has created to help those who are inspired by the Olympics to get themselves or their kids in the pool!

The team I, and a great group of bloggers chatted with were:
- Karen Linhart, USA Swimming Public Relations and Social Media Director
- Jamie Fabos Olsen, Marketing and Brand Development Director, USA Swimming
- Lindsay Mintenko, National Team Managing Director, USA Swimming, gold medalist in swimming in the 2000 Olympics and gold and silver medalist in swimming in the 2004 Olympics
- Emily Silver, Athlete Relations and Family Program Manager, USA Swimming and a silver medalist in swimming in the 2008 Olympics

Q: At what age should I start teaching my child to swim?
A: Most places that offer swim lessons begin when the child is six months old, but there are places that do “Mommy and Me” classes as an introduction to water at an even younger age.
Q: What is the right age for kids to start learning swim strokes?  Should young kids focus on strokes or fundamentals?
A: It depends on what you are comfortable teaching them.  Focus on the fundamentals first, but if they know the fundamentals, you can move on and teach the strokes whenever they seem ready.  The goal is for kids to have fun and be safe and comfortable around the water.

Q: How can I give my child the confidence to swim without arm floaties?
A: USA Swimming advocates against flotation devices, because they can give kids a false sense of security.  Try to avoid any kind of flotation aid, and get your child in swimming lessons.  There is no substitute for professional swimming instruction, and instructors are trained to help kids with their fear of the water and help them acclimate to the water at their own pace.  

Q: Should kids be allowed to wear goggles in the water?
A: If goggles help kids when they are in the water, wearing them will not be detrimental.

Q: What are the expenses for swimming lessons and team swimming?
A: It varies by location and club, but a full session of swim lessons (approximately 8 lessons) generally costs about $50. USA Swimming partners with about 525 participating clubs nationwide on their Make a Splash charitable effort, which provides every child in America with the opportunity to learn to swim.  Swim clubs on SwimToday.org with a water drop next to their name provide a designated number of swimming lessons for free or at a discounted cost.  The distribution of free or discounted lessons is club-dependent, and you can ask your local club about it directly.  If expense is a concern, visit SwimToday.org and enter your ZIP code to find out if a swim club in your area is a Make a Splash partner.  More about Make a Splash: http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=2092&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en

If you want to learn more about learning to swim or swimming competitively visit SwimToday.org and be sure to tune in to cheer on Team USA at the Olympic Games in London, July 28 - August 4.

I wrote this post as part of a compensated campaign with The Motherhood. All opinions expressed are my own honest, personal feedback.


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