VIEWS FROM THE POOLSIDE

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Submerging is an essential swimming skill

Swimming Lessons
Submerging your baby can be a very confronting thing to do, and babies will do it in their own time. If a baby learns to respect and not fear the water, and is confident with their parent in the water, then the skill of submerging will be one they thoroughly enjoy. Why do we need babies to be confident with submerging? It is important that babies feel happy going under the water because if they fall into a pool, or slip over in the bath they are less likely to panic. Submerging also allows the baby to fully enjoy different aquatic environments including swimming lessons, the backyard pool, the beach, river, paddle pool or bathtub. By teaching babies to put their face in the water we can teach them to blow bubbles. Blowing bubbles is not just a fun thing for babies to do but it provides them with the foundation for when they start learning the breathing technique for freestyle. And this comes around a lot faster than we think!! Submerging also allows the skill of front floating possible. If a baby is not happy with their head in the water then forming that horizontal body position for floating is difficult. Floating on their front is important because this is the beginning part of teaching a glide, torpedo and eventually full freestyle. Submerging is one of the essential building blocks in learning to swim. Submerging will allow the swimmer to learn and master all the strokes. The State Swim way of submerging: We never force your baby to go under the water or push them into the pool. They will do it in their own time. We ensure that submerging is fun and we do it through games and rhymes. We have lots of different ways of submerging, as one way may work for one baby and not for another, and the age of the baby needs to be considered too. Before a baby attempts the skill of submerging, they need to be confident with having water splashed on their face and water gently poured over their heads. For the younger babies we instruct parents to gently blow in their child’s face before they put them under the water. By doing this, the baby takes a quick breath in which stops them from swallowing water when they go under.
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Why do we start so young?

Swimming Lessons
Hi Everyone, You may ask the question, why is it so important to start your child’s aquatic education at a young age? The State Swim Program is delivered in three stages: 1. Swim'n' Play Program (6 months - 4 years) 2. 400 Gold Program (4 years +) 3. Health and Sport Program (Squad Coaching Program) Each of the three stages prepares the swimmer for the next stage. Classes are made of logical progressions that continuously challenge and reward swimmers through strengthening the skills already learnt whilst introducing new and more challenging skills. This month we will focus on the Swim ‘n’ Play Program. This stage is about the joy of swimming. It is a deep water survival skill program aimed at making our youngest children safe in the water. It is a pre cursor to joining the 400 Gold Program where the technical strokes are taught. While swimming lessons for babies and toddlers will assist in addressing the safety issues there are many more benefits such as: Respect for the water: The child will not be fearful or panic in the water. The class will show them water is enjoyable and fun. It aims to reduce any anxiety the child may experience in other water based activities such as washing their hair Develops co-ordination and strength: Using under arm crawl and kicking legs helps develop the child's co-ordination. It also increases their strength and muscular functions.  Builds bonds: Parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, guardians and friends can participate in the class, facilitating bonding between them and the child. Acceptance of the water: Babies accept the water more readily than a younger child which will make the transition to the 400 Gold Program easier Fear of the water: The longer the child is kept away from the water the greater the fear can become. Refine Strokes: It gives children a head start to learning how to swim. It gives the rudimental swimming skill such as body position and introduces breathing techniques. Exercise: It’s a healthy activity and improves the cardio vascular system. Water resistance means the child is exercising more through the water. Build Confidence: It will create a child who is comfortable and confident in an aquatic environment. Decrease separation anxiety: As children progress through our programs they will be happy and comfortable to swim independently which will decrease separation anxiety when they are in the water with an Instructor and without a parent.  Breath control: Introduces the ability to control their breath when they submerge. Breath control is a crucial skill in learning to swim. Learning to swim at any age is beneficial but keep in mind at all times no matter the age of your child, adult supervision is vital in ensuring a safe aquatic environment. I hope you find this information useful. Thank you Renee Moran (Operations Manager State Swim East Fremantle)  
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Reflexes involved with submerging babies in water

Swimming Lessons
There are a number of reflexes that are debated when baby swimming lessons are discussed. These are commonly the Dive reflex (also known as Mammalian reflex or bradycardia reflex); the gag reflex (also known as the pharyngeal reflex); the swimming reflex and the breathing reflex. It seems that all of these and not one stand out, is responsible for the apparent ability of a baby to ‘swim’ Let’s have a look at some of the basic facts surrounding these reflexes. The Dive reflex occurs in cold water and actually occurs in all mammals (that’s why it is called the mammalian reflex).  It causes the heart to slow right down (hence the name Bradycardic reflex) allowing the body to use less oxygen and conserve what is in the body for the vital organs and brain. Vasoconstriction occurs n the peripherals (Luenberger 2001) and a de activation of the breathing muscles such as the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. (Matt Ansay, Kristine Sliwicki, Brittney Kohlnhofer, Sarah Castillo 2011; Gooden 1994)  Studies have shown that the dive reflex is initiated even by immersing only the face (particularly the forehead) in cold water. The whole body does not necessarily need to be submerged.  Interestingly, the ‘dive reflex’ can also be initiated by blowing in a baby’s face. Many people have noticed that a baby ‘holds their breath’ when someone blows on their face however the baby actually takes a quick breath in.  This is why it is commonly cited as a means to calming a distressed baby who is crying uncontrollably.  It is also referred to as the ‘breathing reflex’ and is commonly used whilst conditioning babies to submerge when swimming. Babies also have what is known as the ‘gag reflex’.  This involves the epiglottis blocking the passage to the lungs which further adds to preventing the inhalation of water. The swimming reflex is responsible for the baby displaying a ‘swimming’ action. Water is a great medium for babies to have freedom of movement as they do not have to fight gravity in order to move.  They can use the muscles in their arms, legs, back and torso in ways that they are unable to on land. When a baby is placed in water on their tummies, they will start to move their arms and legs in a swimming type of motion.  This reflex will begin to disappear around the age of 6 months. So now we have briefly discussed four reflexes.  One (the breathing reflex) initiates a baby to take in a quick breath before submerging and the second (the dive reflex) prevents the baby from breathing under water, the third stops the baby from accidently taking in more water (the gag reflex) and the third (swimming reflex) allows the baby to develop strength in their swimming muscles by mimicking a swimming action. Together, along with qualified instruction, babies are able to take part in reputable swimming classes designed to develop their muscular and cognitive function and assist then in developing water survival behaviours.  It is important to realise that these reflexes should not be relied on to save a baby from drowning and parents should ALWAYS remain vigilant with their supervision when their baby is around water.
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Kick Start Swimming Program

Swimming Lessons
Glides is a very important class as the skills taught in this class such as immersion skills and basic Freestyle and Backstroke kicking form the building blocks for the skills taught in the classes which follow. It is crucial that we get your child to feel happy and confident in the water and attempting these skills so that we can get them steadily moving through our program. The Glides class is often the first time children have had a swimming lesson or have entered the water without a parent. The first step is to build trust and confidence and this can take time when the swimmers are coming for 30 mins once a week. In order to fast track this phase we are offer the KICK START Program. Children will receive 2 lessons per week for the regular monthly price. The “Kick Start Program” is not compulsory but highly recommended. We encourage when you book your second lesson with a different instructor as we have found that it is best for children to get use to swimming with different instructors. Our program remains the same regardless of who the child’s instructor is. However, the personality of an instructor or the way they may explain something can make all the difference to a child mastering a particular skill. It may just ‘click’ for them when it is delivered differently. We understand that children are sometimes unable to make their lesson. Make up lessons are available on your first booking. We are confident that by taking part in the “Kick Start Program” your “Glide” swimmer will settle more quickly into the aquatic environment, and you will see the educational benefits of intensive learning, as your child has the opportunity to practice these skills. The boost to their confidence at this early stage of their aquatic education cannot be underestimated as it sets the tone for their progression through our program.
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Floaties in the Kindy Class

Swimming Lessons
Floaties in Kindergarten Our popular Kindergarten program provides swimming lessons for children from the age of 2 ½ to 4 years of age. Our lessons are delivered to children in a nurturing, patient and fun environment. We do this through offering small class sizes (max of 4) and a program designed to still be engaging whilst teaching deep-water survival skills and skills development. You will notice that when your child has lessons in the Kindergarten class that they will all be given “arm floats” to wear. We are often asked why do we use “arm floats” instead of other forms of floaties? And why does my child need to wear floaties when they can swim without them? We choose to use “arm floats” for our Kindergarten swimmers because they allow for maximum amount of body movement for the swimmer. Some other floatation devices such as ones placed around their middle or on their backs can limit movement and make the swimmer unbalanced in the water. Also, “arm floats” provide the added benefit of being able to let out as little or as much air from the device as the swimmer requires. For example, when your child firsts starts they may need the full amount of air in their floaties. However, as they become stronger the air can be removed from the floaties, and this can also be done often without the child realising they have less air in them. When children become stronger and more confident in the Kindergarten class parents want to know why they need to be wearing floaties at all. They will obviously be spending more time with their floaties removed or with little air in them. However, there are times when the swimmers will be holding on to the bar and waiting for their turn, and for safety reasons it is important for them to have their floaties on in case they let go of the bar or after they have done a swim without floaties they are often tired so it is important that whilst they are resting they have their floaties on. Our dedicated instructors and supervising staff are always happy to help with any questions you have about the use of floaties or the Kindergarten class.    
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Why is our Glides class so important?

Swimming Lessons
Glides is the FIRST class of eight classes in the State Swim ‘400 GOLD’ –LEARN TO SWIM PROGRAM. This is an exciting time for young children as they have either completed our “Swim and Play” program (Infant and Toddler Aquatic Program) and are entering into our “400 Gold” - learn to swim program, or they are having their first swimming lesson in Glides at State Swim. The “Glides” class is fundamental because it is often the first time children have had a swimming lesson or have entered the water without a parent. The first step in this class is to build trust and confidence. Glides is also a very important class as the skills taught in this class such as immersion skills and basic Freestyle and Backstroke kicking form the building blocks for the skills taught in the classes which follow. It is crucial that we get your child to feel happy and confident in the water and attempting these fundamental skills so that we can get them steadily moving through our classes. In Glides, swimmers will be spending a lot more time in a horizontal position with their face in the water, and this may require some time for them to get used to. As parents, you can help your child with this transition. You don’t need a pool at home. Here are some suggestions to help your child: With your child wearing their goggles get them to practice putting their face in the water in the bath. You can encourage them to do this by placing objects in the water they can look for, or even counting aloud and seeing how long they can keep their face in the water. Children love the challenge and they will want to try and beat their time!! Teach your child to blow soft bubbles in the water using a straw and then get them to practice those soft bubbles with their face in the water without the straw. In the bath, you can also get your child to practice floating on their back with their ears in the water. You can use your hand to support the back of their neck if they are anxious. Also, while on their back get them to practice kicking. They need to have small, fast kicks with only their toes breaking the surface, not their knees. Your child can practice their freestyle kick by lying on a bed or across a chair. They need to keep their legs relaxed and have nice loose ankles. Encourage your child slowly. As your child becomes more confident you will find that he/she will happily attempt these activities. Be patient and always be positive with your child’s efforts. Our on deck supervisors are always happy to answer any questions you have about the Glides class and your child’s progress.
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