Swimming. Is it something we take for granted? We consider lake and beach trips vacations, love to spend time and money on luxury items like boating, fishing and even our own backyard pools. Being surrounded by water is something we just play into our daily lives (I mean, we DO live on an island!).
But the trends are speaking. Did you know that currently, almost 10 people drown every day in the United States (non-boating related)? And with the rise of more and more accessible backyard pools, parents are starting their children younger and younger in the water.
Don’t Be Scared: SwimToday
We had the rare opportunity this summer to participate in the highly esteemed water sprites class at Asphalt Green through SwimToday. We also had the pleasure of working with one of the best teachers on staff, Christian. Seriously, my son still asks for him everyday (unfortunately Christian is also a NYC school teacher come fall). I have to admit, after watching my son participate in this class week after week, I agree that swimming just might be the #funnestsport. Here’s why:
Learning to love the water in a non-confrontational, safe way was something I didn’t learn as a child. I was lied to and told to jump in and wasn’t caught, plummeting underwater. I might still remember and still be a little pissed off, but at least it worked, right? Well, I might be a tough parent, but I still don’t want to just “throw” my toddler into the deep end. Luckily, Christian had a better approach in their 30-minute class.
Week One – Meet the water
Learning the water. The first few classes parents are asked to come dressed in full swim gear and get in to coax their little ones in and to take on the shallow pool themselves. (This modern pool actually moves up and down in-depth, while you’re in it – it also comes up to a flat surface when you finish so no one accidentally falls in, and also to clean/drain the pool). One of the first things toddlers learn is safety – how to roll onto their bellies to get into the pool, and to sit “criss-cross applesauce” so they are safely seated at the pools edge.
Week Two – Kicking
It may seem minuscule, but kicking is a huge component of swimming – and toddlers love to make a big splash. From holding on to the pools edge to floating around on giant pastel animal cutouts, Maximo happily kicked himself in a solid nap after each class.
Week Three – Separation
One of the main goals of water sprites is to teach children to swim alone. They need to learn to separate from their parents, and to be independent swimmers. As the classes progressed, us parents moved father and farther away – from inside the pool, to the edge of the pool to sitting on benches away from the pool. Next time? We don’t even go inside the facilities!
Week Four – Bubbles
My son is still blowing bubbles. In his hand in the air, in the bathtub, on the beach, in the pool….you name it. One of his favorite things to do is still put his face in the water and blow. I love that he’s been so easily open to loving water and not being afraid.
Week Five – Windmills
After legs comes arms. The cutest, I know. But you have to remember that all these components are leading to building strong, lifetime swimmers. Asphalt Green’s approach is noninvasive, un-forceful and exciting – making the tots want to come back for more each week.
– As a parent, I realized how important swimming is for kids. It teaches life saving lessons, structure, independence, exercise and self-esteem when the learn they can do it on their own!
– Asphalt Green is probably one of the best non-profit institutions I’ve encountered in NYC. Their facilities are clean, safe, and modernized. Their staff is friendly and helpful. Our swimming teacher, Christian, honestly loved working with the kids and what he was doing – it wasn’t just a pay check. That commitment as a parent is rare and highly regarded.
– As I mentioned, my son still loves to blow bubbles everywhere, and climbs into the pool by rolling over onto his belly first. The lessons he learned were fun, ingrained and we both can’t wait to continue into another class.
SwimToday is a first-of-its-kind marketing collaboration within the swimming industry. It is a joint, industry effort created to promote and grow participation in the sport of swimming. The campaign is led by USA Swimming, Arena USA, Speedo USA and TYR Sport, with additional support from the following aquatic organizations: American Swimming Coaches Association, National Swimming Pool Foundation, U.S. Masters Swimming, Colorado Time Systems, Swimming World magazine, TeamUnify, Counsilman-Hunsaker and USA Swimming Foundation.
About Asphalt Green
Asphalt Green has two locations in NYC – Yorkville and Battery Park City. Families from all over the city travel there, including us, for their highly rated youth sports and after school programs. From swimming (more than 30,000 kids have learned how to swim here!) to summer day camps and mommy and me fitness classes, this massive venue offers something for every age. (They also have on-site babysitting—a huge plus!) Since Asphalt Green is a nonprofit, many of their community programs are either free or low-cost.
Author: Stephanie Barnhart
Stephanie Barnhart is Author/Founder of Footballfoodandmotherhood.com, New York Editor for Mommy Nearest Magazine, and Founder/Social Media Strategist of SocialmindedMediaGroup.com. Stephanie is also a speaker of best online practices for small business and soloprenurs, as well as an educator to parents on social media monitoring. She has also been seen in the New York Times, PARENTGUIDE News, NY Metro Parent, ABC News, and been a contributing author on various websites.