winter swimming

14 April 2014

Swimming is generally not the first thing to leap into peoples mind for winter participation, however there are some very strong arguments to support the idea of swimming in the winter, particularly if attending an indoor facility.

For young children, swimming is often an essential skill for their development and on some occasions, their survival.  Particularly in an environment that resides by a coast line or waterway.  Many recreational activities are based around the water and it is often a social faux par not to be able to participate due to the inability to swim. 

So often we see parents engage in a scramble to enrol their children into swimming lessons as soon as summer shows its face. Expecting them to ‘learn to swim’ in the few weeks leading up to a host of summer activities.  Then once the warm weather disappears and the availability of water activities subsides, there is no need to further develop their skills until next summer when the whole cramming process starts again.

Is this really fair on our kids?  To cram swimming lessons into a few short months, often having to ‘relearn’ skills that they have lost over winter?  Would they not benefit and become stronger, more competent swimmers given the opportunity to learn and develop their skills throughout the year?  If so, when summer arrives, our children are already prepared to take on water based activities and can enjoy summer from start to end.

Then there is the idea of pursuing swimming as a competitive sport.  It’s a great lifelong, non weight bearing skill, which will always come in handy at any age.  For parents, there is no concern about possible concussions, no standing out in the rain, no need to cut up kilos of oranges and no stinky sports gear to clear a spot in the shed for.

Parents can show their support poolside in the dry comfort of the swimming school and possibly catch up on the news or local community information on their internet devices. 

But what about catching a cold?  Surely being wet will subject our children to getting sick?  INCORRECT!  Society is plagued by the misconception that by getting wet, you will catch a cold.  Influenza viruses and the like do not sit dormant in our bodies until we get wet!  For a person to get sick they must firstly be exposed to the ‘germ’ that causes the illness.  For those who may be immunosuppressed, it is not ideal to remain wet for an extended amount of time, as this may require the body to work harder at regulating body temperature, consequently putting strain on the immune system and giving infection an opportunity to establish itself in the body.

For otherwise healthy individuals, getting wet should pose no threat to their health.  It is far more dangerous to be inside in an air conditioned environment where pathogens can freely move around, sticking to door handles and telephones ready to infect the next victim!

If you haven’t yet jumped onto the winter sport band wagon – consider swimming.  Improve fitness and develop those essential swimming skills in preparation for summer!

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